There are so many different senior living options available for seniors today, and discerning which senior living solution is which can often be a challenge. One of the most common senior living options available today are nursing homes. While many seniors and their families may assume that there is only one type of nursing home care, there are actually two very distinct and important types of nursing care solutions out there. The first, is traditional nursing home care and the other is skilled nursing home care.
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are actually two very different types of care. It is important that seniors, family members and caregivers who may be considering skilled nursing care understand that there is a difference between skilled nursing and nursing home care to alleviate any confusion.
One of the most distinctive differences between skilled nursing and nursing home care is that skilled nursing facilities are covered by Medicare for a short period of time. Traditional nursing homes are not covered by Medicare.
This is because skilled nursing homes are regulated by the Department of Health. They also have more criteria that they need to meet. This includes having a transfer agreement in place with local hospitals. This is put in place in case one of their residents or patients requires emergency care or if they need rehab. This is why in many situations, seniors attending skilled nursing facilities are those that need some additional care or rehabilitation.
Medicare will certify that these facilities meet these qualifications and ensure that they have the staff necessary to provide patients with the care they need. Many times, this includes more intensive nursing care or help with different types of rehab as well as other included health care services.
This includes, but is not limited to care such as physical therapy and even injections. Skilled care is administered by trained professionals, as opposed to traditional nursing home care which can be administered by non-professionals. For example, a senior living in skilled nursing can receive physical therapy as part of their care regimen, while an un-trained individual providing general care in a nursing home would be unable to provide their patients with physical therapy services.
Medicare covers skilled care services that are needed daily for up to 100 days. Some seniors may need to stay longer, but the cost will need to come out-of-pocket.
Typically, seniors will stay in a skilled care facility until they can recover and be moved to a traditional nursing home setting. It is often a stop for seniors from the hospital into a more long-term nursing home solution.
Who Provides Care at Skilled Nursing?
One of the other ways in which skilled nursing facilities differ from traditional nursing home care comes with the staff that service these institutions. Typically staff members include professionals such as:
- Registered nurses
- Licensed practical nurses
- Speech-language pathologists
- Licensed vocational nurses
- Medical directors
These are professionals that typically aren't found in traditional nursing homes, but that are available to most skilled nursing patients. In a skilled nursing home community, these professionals can help seniors recover in a comfortable environment so they can leave the hospital and start getting the rehabilitation that they need.
Traditional Nursing Homes
While skilled nursing care can provide a very specific type of service for certain seniors, it doesn't mean that every senior needs a skilled care nursing home facility. Seniors who go to traditional nursing homes will still get great care, just not the same medically-focused care that is available in skilled nursing home facilities.
Unlike skilled nursing home care, there is typically no limit to how long seniors can stay in a nursing home. Medicare and Medicaid both don't cover traditional nursing homes, so seniors will not get financial assistance when they enter into a traditional nursing home. It is important to note that these nursing homes are also not covered or certified by the government, like skilled care facilities are. However, in some states, these facilities are still licensed and inspected by state agencies such as the Department of Health or the Department of Social Services.
Nursing homes are a permanent residence for seniors who cannot live at home, while a skilled nursing situation typically isn't as permanent. Those living in nursing homes typically require daily assistance. This is typically defined as custodial care, or care that can be offered by a non-medical professional. Medicare does not cover this type of care, like it does with skilled nursing.
However, if seniors need general care that they can provide one their own, such as using oxygen, taking care of catheters, using eye drops, taking vitamins, stretching, applying creams or taking oral medications, they can still stay in a nursing home facility and can also get assistance from the care providers at their nursing home.
A traditional nursing home will be run by a private or charitable organization and while they can help provide care for daily activities, they do not offer the same wide menu of services that skilled nursing care facilities do.
These nursing homes can still provide seniors with a great deal of care, even though they are not medically-oriented. This includes services such as:
- Helping seniors with grooming and bathing
- Assisting seniors with their daily care needs
- Providing general care each and every day, including help with getting in and out of bed
- Offering light housekeeping services to keep the seniors bed or room neat and tidy
- Providing meal services
- Help with dressing each and every day
- Assisting seniors with using the bathroom and getting around the facility
- Providing transportation services to seniors when they need to leave the community
One of the great things about nursing home care is that it provides adults who need assistance with the day-to-day care that they need in order to stay safe and healthy, so most nursing homes will provide customized care, depending on the needs of the individual senior.