The aging population in the United States is growing. In 2011, the first members of the baby boomer generation reached age 65, beginning an expansion of the elderly population that is expected to grow until 2030. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that in any given year, approximately 1.7 million people live in 15,000 nursing homes across the United States. Facilities that provide long-term assistance offer different services, depending on the needs of residents. The offerings in a nursing home are different from those in a skilled nursing facility, although some facilities offer both types of care.
Services in Skilled Nursing Facilities and Nursing Homes
Skilled nursing facilities provide care for the elderly, prepare their meals, and offer non-medical help with tasks such as bathing. They also employ speech-language pathologists, audiologists, rehabilitation specialists, and other medical professionals who are not typically found in nursing homes. Skilled nursing, also called post-acute care, is usually intended for patients who need rehabilitation after an emergency stay in a hospital.
Nursing homes also offer care from certified nurses, meal preparation, and non-medical help such as personal care, but they do not have the range of licensed medical professionals offered by a skilled nursing facility. Residents live permanently in nursing homes but stay temporarily in skilled nursing facilities in order to resolve a particular medical issue or to recover after a hospital stay. Skilled nursing facilities are not usually long term care facilities.
Does Your Loved One Need Skilled Nursing or a Nursing Home?
The main distinctions between skilled nursing and nursing home care are the nature of medical treatment provided and the amount of time a patient remains in the facility. A skilled nursing facility provides specialized medical care for patients who are recovering from a serious illness but are not ready to make the transition from hospital to home. After rehabilitation, the staff then assesses whether the patient is able to go home or should be moved to long term care.
How to Choose a Skilled Nursing Facility
A range of factors should influence your choice of a skilled nursing facility. Most patients want to be close to friends and family so that they can enjoy visits while they recuperate. Food should be to the patient’s liking. The staff should include medical professionals who can provide the specialized care a patient might need. The following list includes additional factors you should consider:
- Does the facility have Medicaid or Medicare certification?
- Are beds immediately available?
- Are the common areas clean and relatively quiet? Are patients’ rooms clean and pleasant?
- Are there objectionable smells in the facility?
- Is the temperature comfortable?
- Are the grounds well-kept and do they have spaces to walk and socialize?
- Are staff members visible and warm, and do they have a rapport with patients? Are you offered a tour by staff upon entering? Do staff members respect patients’ privacy in their rooms, or do they enter without knocking?
- What indoor and outdoor social and recreational activities does the facility provide for patients? Does the facility have a pool? Does it provide transportation to events in the community?
- Is the number of nurses sufficient to care for the number of patients? How frequently does a licensed physician visit the facility?
- Are patients’ rooms kept clean and nicely furnished? Do they offer enough space? Do they get sufficient sunlight? Do patients enjoy the use of phones, television, and the Internet? Are bathrooms shared or private? Does the facility offer quiet spaces for patients and their visitors?
- Can patients access all areas of the facility via wheelchair? Do you see handrails placed frequently around the facility to assist patients with limited mobility?
- What do patients have to say about the quality of meals? What dining choices are available between meals? Are visitors permitted to bring in outside food?
- If there is an emergency, which hospital is close by? Can the facility offer successful rehabilitation rates for previous patients? How long does a patient with needs similar to your loved one’s generally remain at the facility?
Choosing a skilled nursing facility for your loved one is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make. You should feel confident that the facility you select is the right one. Contact our team today to learn more about our services.