Is a Skilled Nursing Facility Different from a Nursing Home?

Is a Skilled Nursing Facility Different from a Nursing Home?Is a Skilled Nursing Facility Different from a Nursing Home?


Recovery after surgery or illness can be challenging later in life. Doctors often recommend a short-term stay at a rehabilitation center. Since there are many options, such as nursing homes and rehab facilities, choosing the most suitable alternative can be stressful and confusing. We have put together the essentials to help you understand the difference between a nursing home and a skilled nursing facility (SNF) and make an informed decision.

What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

It is a medical treatment and inpatient rehabilitation center, ideal post your hospital stay to recover after surgery, an accident, or a severe illness. This way, you can regain your strength and ability to remain independent and perform activities of daily living such as personal hygiene, bathing, dressing, walking, cooking, and more. Typically, these facilities offer round-the-clock care and professional assistance.

It helps to understand that the need for skilled nursing services does not necessarily indicate that you must stay in an SNF. Several factors influence this decision, including the severity of your condition, lifestyle, living situation, availability of assistance, and the rehab services you need.

What is a Nursing Home?

These are residential properties for seniors who need professional help to manage a chronic illness or mobility problems. Staying in a nursing home ensures you receive the care you need to maintain your physical and mental well-being. Usually, this is an indication of a more permanent move.

Moving to a nursing home is typically considered more permanent, while a skilled nursing facility is suitable for a temporary stay, particularly rehab and recovery. In the former senior living option, you can get assistance with activities of daily living and a calendar of activities to encourage engagement and build a harmonious community.

Are Skilled Nursing Facilities Different from Nursing Homes?

Type of Care

Although both provide senior care, they have their differences. An SNF offers more specific care, whereas nursing homes are suitable for generalized care. It helps to know that professional training is essential for senior living centers. However, the latter does not necessarily require a high level of certification. They can have staff with the credentials and skills that qualify under skilled nursing to ensure the residents receive general care and medical support. To put it clearly, SNFs must have trained experts, but SNFs may or may not have them.

Training and Certifications

Unlike SNFs, nursing homes do not require advanced training. This is why they are often less equipped to help you recover from surgery or an acute medical condition or restore your functions after a hospital stay. In comparison, skilled nursing facilities have the resources to offer specialized services, such as wound care, physical rehabilitation, speech therapy, cardiac care, and post-stroke support.

Type of Services

Skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes deliver some of the same services for seniors. This includes assistance with activities of daily living, medication management, dialysis, insulin injections, blood sugar testing, and blood pressure monitoring. However, nursing homes perform these services where you can live full-time, whereas SNFs have short-term, medically intensive arrangements.

Cost Differences Between Skilled Nursing Care & Nursing Home

When choosing a senior care option, it is wise to understand the costs and expenses involved and keep the following in mind:

  • Nursing homes for seniors can be more expensive as your insurance is less likely to cover the services.
  • Medicare may include a skilled nursing facility if it is needed. In contrast, nursing care is included under Medicaid, Medicare, or private health insurance if a doctor recommends it.
  • A nursing home falls under custodial care, which Medicare does not cover. It is beneficial to have Medicaid, long-term health insurance, or private funds to pay for it.
  • Having long-term health insurance can benefit you in many ways. It can help you pay for long-term care, including non-skilled and skilled care. The coverage may vary depending on the provider and whether they cover pre-existing medical conditions. It is wise to research the best policy that suits your needs.

4 Possible Hidden Costs of Nursing Homes

Health Assessment

Nursing homes often require a complete health assessment when you first move in. Although many facilities consider it part of their primary care, it could be added to your bill as a one-time fee depending on the facility’s policy.

Tip: It is best to ask the management whether it is included in the bill when assessing different facilities. This way, you can budget accordingly and avoid surprises.

Leave of Absence Fee

Nursing homes may charge an additional fee for leave of absence or bed-holding. It is the daily cost to reserve your place if you need to leave the nursing home for hospital surgery, medical treatment at another facility, or therapeutic leave. This will allow you to return to the nursing home without worrying whether you will have a place.

Tip: When researching different senior care facilities, ask about the leave of absence fee and sign a bed-hold agreement to secure your place if you need to leave the facility in the future temporarily.

Additional Services

Extra care, such as therapies and social services, may not be included in the standard care. You may need to pay more, depending on the facility’s policy.

Tip: It helps to ask for a sample bill and understand all the components, so you know what services are covered. Doing so will help you assess if and how much you need to pay additionally, depending on the assistance you need.

Cost Increases

Nursing homes typically include the estimated cost of the following month in the current bills. Attention to these details will help you identify the changes and additional charges in the basic fee structure.

Tip: Remember to ask the nursing home staff how often they increase their rates. If you see a change in your bill, understand the reasons so you can be better prepared.

It helps to understand that not all facilities for seniors have hidden costs. Look for reputable ones to have peace of mind and be worry-free about expenses.

6 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Nursing Home

What is the Staff-to-Resident Ratio?

This question will help you understand whether the staff works overtime or double shifts and how good the service is.

How Do the Members Interact with Seniors?

Take a tour of the nursing home to observe interactions between the residents and nurses. See if the staff treats seniors with dignity and respect and how they address them.

Does the Nursing Home Accept Medicaid or Medicare?

If you do not have private funds to pay for the services, ask whether they are Medicaid or Medicare-certified.

Does the Nursing Home Have Specialized Services & Resources?

Before finalizing a nursing home, determine whether they can care for your needs. Inquire about physical rehab, counseling, preventative care, special assistance for seniors with dementia, and more.

What Does the Daily Schedule Consist Of?

Ensure the nursing home has a healthy, mentally, and physically engaging schedule for the residents. Ask about the social activities the staff arrange and how they plan them.

Do the Residents Look Happy and Healthy?

While touring a nursing home, note the residents’ appearances. Talk to them to understand their experiences. Ask if they like the staff, services, schedules, and food in the nursing home.

Holiday Retirement Provides the Best Skilled Nursing Care

The Holiday Retirement offers a top-notch skilled nursing facility and rehabilitation center for seniors. We aim to provide excellent services and care to ensure our residents are happy, safe, and healthy.

If you are looking for a nursing home in Rhode Island, call us at 1-401-765-1440 or book a tour of our facility to understand what we can do for you.

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