What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

skilled nursing facility 

When you’re in the process of making complex healthcare decisions, the last thing you need is to get tangled up in confusing terms and vague definitions. In particular, trying to determine the right choice of living facility for your loved one becomes a frustrating experience if you’re unclear about the difference between a skilled nursing facility and a nursing home. While the two types of facilities have some similarities, there are crucial differences that patients and caregivers need to know when discussing healthcare options. Here’s an overview of what defines a skilled nursing facility and what kind of services and care you can expect:

Patients remain under medical care

At a skilled nursing facility, services are provided by medical doctors, registered nurses, and licensed physical and occupational therapists. In addition to medical care, skilled nursing facilities also offer pharmaceutical, laboratory, and radiology services. 

Nursing homes, in contrast, may have certified professional health care workers on staff, but they are more often run by charitable and private organizations, and don’t provide the full spectrum of care that a skilled nursing facility does.

Short-term and long-term care 

While most people assume skilled nursing facilities are designed primarily for long-term senior care, they address a wide variety of medical conditions that require short- or long-term care. Other services provided by skilled nursing facilities include:

  • Stroke recovery
  • Parkinson’s care
  • Terminal illness care
  • Rehabilitation after surgery or illness

Comprehensive rehabilitation services

For patients requiring short-term care, skilled nursing facilities offer comprehensive rehabilitation following surgery or an extended illness. Rehabilitation care includes physical therapy to restore strength and balance, occupational therapy to improve everyday independence, and speech therapy to address communication issues after a stroke or other brain injury. 

Custodial care provided

Skilled nursing facilities are ideal for long-term custodial care for seniors who need around-the-clock nursing care for medical conditions or close supervision when dementia is a concern. Other services for seniors include assistance with meals, medication, personal hygiene, getting in and out of bed, and other daily activities. These services are typically provided at nursing homes as well, but the primary caregivers are certified nursing aids. At a skilled nursing facility, these services are provided by skilled, licensed professionals. 

Skilled nursing facilities are licensed and regulated

One of the main differences between skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes is that the former is licensed and regulated by the state’s Department of Health Services, while the latter is not. Some of the requirements for licensing include adequate staff and equipment to provide skilled nursing care, along with a transfer agreement in place with hospitals in the event a patient needs emergency care. Licensing is also required for a facility to be certified by Medicare and Medicaid.

Skilled nursing facilities offer a variety of social activities

In an effort to distinguish themselves from “impersonal” hospital settings, many skilled nursing facilities offer a variety of social activities to keep residents active and raise their spirits. Activities can include birthday celebrations, live music, organized games, art classes, yoga, and even group outings. Social opportunities are especially important for patients receiving long-term care because they are vulnerable to feelings of isolation and disconnection.  

Are you looking for a skilled nursing facility in San Diego?

At Bella Vista Health Center, we strive to create a comfortable and nurturing atmosphere where residents and guests feel informed and safe. Our 5-Star rated facility was recently remodeled and features the highest quality care plus perks like free concierge service, salon services, local transportation, nutritious and culturally diverse meals, and social activities that focus on the mind, body and spirit. We welcome you to stop by our location in Lemon Grove today. Or give us a call at (619) 399-7920 for more information about the services we provide. 

We look forward to hearing from you.