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Modern rehabilitation physiotherapy worker with senior client

What Is Skilled Nursing Care?

Skilled nursing facilities offer a different kind of care from an assisted living facility. Often, patients at a skilled nursing facility have come from a hospital, where they’ve undergone surgery or received care for an injury, a stroke, or another acute health care need. They come to the skilled nursing facility to recover so they can go home, or to receive long-term care requiring medical skill. A resident in a senior care facility might need help with different kinds of self care:

  • remembering to take medications
  • using eye drops, oxygen, or other kinds of medical care often used at home
  • using a colostomy bag
  • walking or other kinds of mobility help

These kinds of help are often part of at-home care by family members. Along with help in dressing, bathing, and housekeeping, these may be things that people usually do for themselves, but which are part of regular care in an assisted living community.

Skilled nursing care facilities provide other kinds of medical care:

  • individualized doctor-supervised medical plans
  • 24 hour nursing by registered nurses or licensed practical nurses
  • care by a physician or nursing care overseen by a physician
  • physical, speech pathology, or occupational therapy

Skilled nursing facilities are certified by Medicare, and stays in a skilled nursing care facility are often covered by Medicare. Requirements for certification are strict. An assisted care facility or a senior health care facility which might be called a nursing home may not be certified to offer skilled nursing services.

When a new resident arrives in a skilled nursing facility, a team of medical professionals will asses the new patient’s needs. This assessment includes a full health history, a check on any medications being used, assessment of the resident’s ability to manage basic daily tasks like walking or using the bathroom, and evaluation of the patient’s ability to make decisions and to communicate.

An individual care plan will be developed, with a clear goal and future dates for assessments. Depending on the facility, there might be many different kinds of medical care available, from wound care to hospice care. There are usually laboratory facilities, too.

If you’re not sure whether your loved one needs skilled nursing care, talk with your family doctor or contact your nearest Tutera facility. We’ll be happy to answer your questions.