You say “I'd like to find a skilled nursing facility near me”. Great, then you've come to the right place! There are a lot of different terms for places which provide living accommodations for the elderly: nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities are two examples of some of these. The two different terms may lead you to wonder: “What is a skilled nursing facility? Is it different than a nursing home?” Although the phrases “nursing home” and “skilled nursing facility” are sometimes used interchangeably, the answer to the question of whether or not there's a difference is a resounding “yes.”
Despite the fact that the term “nursing home” can be used for what's really a “skilled nursing facility” and vice versa in common parlance, there are “technical” differences. We'll get into the differences between them, including what makes a skilled nursing facility more specialized, below. We'll also show you how best to find a skilled nursing facility in the local area in case you're asking yourself, “How can I find skilled nursing facilities near me?”
Skilled Nursing Facility Definition
First off, what is a skilled nursing facility? The primary difference between a nursing home and a skilled nursing facility is that skilled nursing facilities are covered by Medicare. So if an elderly person enters what many people would refer to as a “nursing home” under Medicare, they are technically entering a skilled nursing facility. As you might expect, skilled nursing facilities have to meet certain standards in order to be covered by Medicare. One of these is that the facility has to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital so that the residents can get treatment in case of an emergency or just normal care.
Another, and probably the most significant, is that the staff at skilled nursing facilities must be “skilled”. That is, they must be able to provide care that a non-professional wouldn't be able to provide. For instance, they should be skilled in the use of IVs. The staff at skilled nursing facilities are actual RNs and other licensed nurses, and they are usually overseen by a medical director. Another difference is that true nursing homes are usually permanent residences for the elderly, whereas skilled nursing facilities may or may not become permanent residences.
What's a nursing home, then?
As already mentioned, nursing homes become the permanent dwellings of residents. These are what most people think of when they hear the term “nursing home,” even if they sometimes use that phrase for skilled nursing facilities insured by Medicare. Genuine nursing homes provide 24/7 care for basic activities with which elderly people might need some assistance, like getting into and out of bed, bathing, using the bathroom, or eating meals. Another appropriate term for nursing homes that you might see used is “assisted living facility.” Since these assisted living facilities are not certified or regulated by the U.S. government, they can't be covered by Medicare or Medicaid.
The most important reason they are not insured by Medicare is that the staff can't provide “skilled” services such as administering an IV or providing physical therapy. However, in some cases, there may be licensed nurses or doctors on staff. Don't think that just because they are not certified by the government, they aren't skillfully operated or to be trusted: many nursing homes are inspected by the government, either the Department of Health or the Department of Social Services (it depends on the state) to make sure they're not being poorly managed and are taking proper care of the residents. A lot of times nursing homes are run by charities, for instance, certain Catholic organizations.
Who needs the care provided by skilled nursing facilities?
Skilled nursing facilities are more for people with serious problems such as Alzheimer's disease or Parkinson's disease – obviously, you need skilled professionals who know what they're doing when it comes to some of these issues! The patients at a skilled nursing facility require staff with specialized knowledge, which you won't get from an average nursing home employee. Just because we pointed out that true nursing homes provide assistance with basic tasks like eating or bathing doesn't mean that skilled nursing facilities don't do this. On the contrary, for elderly people who are not able-bodied and require this help, what's called “custodial care” is provided.
Essentially, skilled nursing facilities provide everything a nursing home run by a charitable organization would, but with the added benefit of skilled professionals running the show (not to mention the fact that expenses are covered by Medicare!). So many people think that the nursing homes described above are the only choice for elderly people who need extra care, but it's just not true. This is why it's important to know the difference between skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes: so that you can make the right decision for you or your parent.
Consider, for instance, bringing the person in need of living or nursing assistance to a doctor before making a final decision, so that you can rule out certain options. In addition to people with serious diseases like Alzheimer's or Parkinson's, those at high risk of falls will also be better cared for in a skilled nursing facility. Take everything into account before deciding whether a skilled nursing facility or a nursing home (assisted living facility) is best.
How do I find skilled nursing facilities near me?
If you've decided that a skilled nursing facility is the best option, you may now be wondering how to find a skilled nursing facility near you. The first thing I did when looking for a skilled nursing facility near me is to ask for referrals from folks locally. Reach out to doctors or friends for recommendations. You should definitely call your local long-term care ombudsman who will provide you with another objective view of local skilled nursing facilities. Ombudsmen are concerned citizens who will give you advice on which nursing facilities in your area provide the most exceptional care. Ask “Can you suggest a skilled nursing facility near me?” As with finding many local things, the internet can be a useful resource here. You'll find a lot of information about skilled nursing facilities near you on the Web. Check out AgingCare.com's Senior Living Guide, for instance. SeniorCare.org also provides resources for finding local skilled nursing facilities.
Before making your decision, be sure to visit each prospective skilled nursing facility for yourself. Ask yourself if the residents seem happy and well cared for. Do the staff have time to speak with you or do they seem rushed? If they take the time to speak with you, it shows that they genuinely care and are able to provide the best service to residents.