What is Skilled Nursing?

Skilled Nursing Facilities

Skilled nursing facilities are also called nursing homes, rest homes, and nursing care communities. They offer a higher level of care for those who require the skilled services of a nurse or therapist. Most residents of a nursing home are older adults who have a medical condition and adults of any age who have a disability.

The majority of skilled nursing facilities have at least two distinct parts: one is for long-term care and one is for short-term rehabilitation. Some skilled nursing communities also offer a Memory care program for residents with Alzheimer's disease or a related dementia.


Skilled Nursing Facility Services

In the long-term care section of a skilled nursing facility you will primarily find older adults who need supervision and support around the clock. They may have a chronic illness or a life-limiting disease that can't be managed at home or in an assisted living community. If the community offers a Memory Care program, it is generally considered to be a part of long-term care.

An increasing number of skilled nursing facilities are also developing rehab-to-home programs. These are for older adults who may have had a surgery, injury or illness that required them to be hospitalized. The short-term rehab services provided in a skilled nursing facility are their next stop before returning home. The patients receive physical, speech, and occupational therapy, in addition to care and services provided by a skilled nurse.

Costs of a Skilled Nursing Facility

In terms of senior living, skilled nursing communities are usually the most expensive type of care. Costs range from $85 to $948 a day for a semi-private room to $100 to $948 a day for a private room. The median cost of a private room is $230 per day and a semi-private is $207.

Paying for Care in a Skilled Nursing Facility

Families are often confused about the many types of payments that are accepted and not accepted in a skilled nursing facility. Short-term rehab services are typically paid for with private health care insurance or Medicare. Medicaid will also pay for short-term rehab.

If the resident lives in the long-term care section of a skilled nursing facility, they are typically paying for care using private funds or with Medicaid. Medicare does NOT pay for long-term care. There are additional options that can help pay for skilled nursing care:

    - Long-term care insurance
    - Veterans may be eligible for the Aid & Attendance benefit

Benefits of a Skilled Nursing Facility

Around the clock care. Skilled medical professionals are on-site around the clock in a skilled nursing facility. That means a nurse is there to care for your family member and to assess and intervene if medical emergencies arise no matter what time of day or night it is.

Pain management. Skilled nursing facilities are getting better about recognizing and treating the pain and symptoms that a chronic illness or recent surgery can cause. Many offer palliative care programs in-house or in conjunction with an area hospice.

Supportive Environment. Nursing homes are equipped with safety features to support the elderly and the disabled. They range from emergency call systems to handicapped accessible showers and bathrooms. Many offer secure Alzheimer's programs to keep residents with dementia safe from wandering.

Life Enrichment. Loneliness and isolation are often an issue for adults with a chronic illness or disability. Having other residents with similar health conditions nearby and a daily calendar of life enrichment activities to participate in can help to prevent depression.

While the label of "nursing home" frightens seniors and their families, most provide quality care. They are often the only safe option for adults living with a medical condition or disability. Nursing Home Compare is an online tool developed by Medicare. It allows you to review survey results and compare one nursing home you might be considering to another.

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