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Skilled Nursing

A skilled nursing facility is an in-patient treatment and rehabilitation center staffed with licensed nurses and other medical professionals for patients who require constant medical care.These facilities provide patients with the medical care they need from licensed nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists and audiologists.

A skilled nursing facility may also be referred to as a nursing home or a long-term care facility. Similar names for nursing homes include rest homes, convalescent homes, or convalescent care.

Skilled nursing facilities provide patients with around-the-clock assistance with healthcare and with activities of daily living (ADLs). ADLs include eating, medication reminders, bathing, dressing and getting out of bed. A skilled nursing facility is different from assisted living. Assisted living is for seniors who don’t need around-the-clock nursing care but who could use help with activities of daily living (ADL). Skilled nursing care is mainly for patients who need care or treatment that can only be performed by licensed nurses.

This type of care is mostly regulated by the U.S. Department of Health and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). To be certified by CMS, skilled nursing communities must meet strict criteria and are subject to periodic inspections to ensure quality standards are being met. They are subject to numerous federal regulations regarding what they can and cannot do.

These services can be very expensive, but most skilled nursing facilities are covered, at least in part, by private health insurance or else Medicare or Medicaid.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a skilled nursing facility?
When someone has had a stroke, surgery, or treatment for kidney, heart, or respiratory conditions, they may still require rehabilitation at a skilled nursing facility following their release from the hospital. There, patients can receive specialized services and care to help them meet their health goals.

Skilled nursing facilities provide a range of services and medical care, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy and injections. They also monitor vital signs and medical equipment.

Skilled nursing staff is made up of several different types of healthcare providers, including registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, speech/language pathologists, licensed vocational nurses, audiologists and medical directors. All must have a transfer agreement with a hospital in case a resident requires emergency care.

What are examples of skilled nursing care?
Nursing homes are licensed healthcare residences for individuals who require a higher level of medical care than that provided in an assisted living facility. RNs, LPNs and certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide 24-hour medical assistance and assistance with ADLs. People may need skilled nursing care for a short time after surgery or an illness, or they may need this level of care for the foreseeable future.

Skilled nursing refers to a variety of medical services, including wound and post-surgical care, needle or intravenous administration of medication, and IV therapy. Physical, occupational and speech therapy can also be provided at a skilled nursing facility. These facilities place a strong emphasis on patient comfort and often provide regular monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, or blood sugar levels.

What is the difference between a nursing home and a skilled nursing facility?
Sometimes “skilled nursing facility” and “nursing home” are used interchangeably. However, there can be several differences between the two types of care facilities. Nursing homes are often for residents who need extensive non-medical help with daily living tasks, such as bathing, eating and dressing. Skilled nursing facilities provide higher levels of medical care to people who need additional (often shorter-term) assistance while recovering from illnesses and injuries, such as strokes.

What is the difference between skilled nursing and long-term care?
Skilled nursing care is typically short-term (no longer than 90 days) in an acute care setting. Skilled nursing facilities are typically post-hospitalization facilities designed to provide 24-hour care from licensed medical professionals, including doctors, nurses, and physical and speech therapists. In a skilled nursing setting, a physician oversees the care of each patient.

Long-term care often refers to an assisted living situation in which an individual who needs assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs), such as eating, bathing, and taking oral medications at the correct time, has ongoing access to licensed medical care. Long-term care facilities are ideal for residents who need hands-on care and supervision around the clock but don’t need the specialized care available in skilled nursing facilities.

Some long-term care is designed to meet the needs of patients who suffer from cognitive disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, or neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease. Long-term care isn’t meant to provide the same acute level of medical care as skilled nursing, but there will likely be access to medical practitioners should they be needed. Because long-term care is more of a permanent residence than skilled nursing, it isn’t typically covered by insurance, Medicare or Medicaid (though private coverages vary).

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