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What is a Skilled Nursing Facility and More Skilled Nursing FAQs

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What is a Skilled Nursing Facility & More Skilled Nursing FAQs

Nursing homes are known by many different terms: convalescent home, rest home, and long-term care center are just a few. In the past 20 years, nursing homes have also added short-term rehabilitation to their services, creating even more confusion. Now this type of community is often referred to as a skilled nursing facility.


What do these communities offer? And how are they different?


We answer some of the most commonly asked questions to help you better understand.

Questions & Answers

A:  The skilled nursing vs. nursing home question is one that comes up often. Seniors and their families wonder if there is a difference between these two terms. The short answer is sometimes


Skilled nursing is a term that is often used to refer to short-term rehab at a skilled nursing and rehab center. If a senior has been hospitalized for a hip replacement surgery, for example, they might transition to a skilled nursing and rehab center to continue recuperating. The patient’s goal is to get back on their feet and return home. This type of unit rehab is typically located within a nursing home.


By contrast, seniors in the long-term care section of a nursing home are likely there permanently. They live with a chronic condition that requires around-the-clock care and supervision from a skilled health professional. Onsite caregivers provide support with everything from respiratory therapy to wound care and diabetes management.

A:  This is a decision best determined by the older adult’s physician. If the senior is recuperating from a life-threatening bout of the flu, for example, they may be weak and fragile. Getting in and out of a car to travel back and forth to an outpatient rehab center might jeopardize their recovery. 


If the senior transfers to a skilled nursing facility for a week or two, they can participate in therapy and rest under the watchful eye of skilled caregivers 24/7.


But if an older adult needs less complex rehab and they are in otherwise good health, an outpatient rehab center might be a good fit.

A:  This is a popular and persistent myth. The truth is, they are different levels of senior care. Let’s explore a skilled nursing facility vs. assisted living. 


An assisted living community is a type of care for older adults who need a little extra help with personal care (e.g., bathing, dressing, toileting) or medication management. Having a caregiver’s support with these types of tasks allows older adults to live independently in their own suite or apartment. They are able to enjoy a wide range of life enrichment activities and wellness programs offered at most assisted living communities.


A resident of a skilled nursing facility, however, needs assistance with more than just personal care and medication management. It might be a senior who has advanced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) that requires around-the-clock support from a nurse or respiratory therapist. Even with assistance, they aren’t able to live independently.

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The Elmcroft Blog

Visit The Elmcroft Senior Living Blog to read more helpful articles on a variety of different topics . We offer informative information on topics such as dining, caregiver guidance and more!

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