Skilled Nursing Care

What Is Skilled Nursing Care?

Many families provide additional care for their senior family members. However, it’s important to recognize when we don’t have the time or skills to provide adequate around-the-clock care. Once you’ve recognized this, you can find long-term care options that provide your loved one the care they deserve. 

During your search, you may find skilled nursing care as an option for your elderly loved one. Mulberry Health can assist your senior family members if your loved one requires short or long-term care that involves medical assistance that exceeds your capabilities. 

Here’s what you should know about what skilled nursing care entails. 

Skilled Nursing Care: An Overview

Skilled nursing care is given to patients who need specialized and intensive medical care that family or home care services can’t provide. It can only be provided by registered nurses, therapists, and other licensed medical professionals. 

Some forms of senior care can be provided by individuals with minimal training and no medical background. However, the U.S. Department of Health and The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) strictly regulate skilled nursing services. Only those accredited can provide these tasks.

Although used interchangeably with terms like “assisted living” and “nursing home,” skilled nursing facilities provide more complex forms of care. It is often administered for patients with specific injuries and illnesses or require regular care, including:

  • Post-surgical procedures that require complex wound dressings
  • Chronic health conditions that need close monitoring by a medical professional
  • Injectable medications, tube feedings, catheters, and other specialized tasks
  • Blood transfusions
  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Rehabilitation following treatment for stroke or kidney, heart, and lung conditions

If your senior loved one is about to undergo surgery or will be discharged from the hospital following treatment, they may require rehabilitation that skilled nursing care facilities best provide. 

Types of Skilled Nursing Care

There are a variety of tasks skilled nursing care providers can perform. Some of the most common forms of skilled nursing care tasks can be categorized into three categories: 

  • Physical Therapy: This includes rehabilitation services like physical therapy to help senior adults recover from illnesses, surgeries, or injuries and maintain their functional abilities for independent living.
  • Occupational Therapy: These assess and address patients’ physical, cognitive, and psychological needs. It focuses on daily living tasks and functional skills, providing adaptive strategies and assistive devices to support patients.
  • Speech Therapy: These help senior patients improve their communication, swallowing, and cognitive abilities. Speech therapists can create personalized therapy plans, including exercises and activities, to address each patient’s unique needs and promote their overall quality of life.

Skilled Nursing Care vs. Nursing Home vs. Assisted Living

Although these terms are used interchangeably when referring to long-term senior care, they entail very different services for your loved one. 

Skilled Nursing FacilityNursing HomeAssisted Living
What Is It?A facility that provides round-the-clock medical and nursing care for patients. A residential facility for seniors who are unable to live independently and require assistance with medical and daily living.A residential facility or community where seniors can live independently but have staff available to assist with specific tasks. 
Best ForSenior patients who require a high level of medical and nursing care due to acute or chronic illness or after a surgical procedure or hospitalizationSeniors who need long-term care and assistance but do not require the higher level of medical care provided in skilled nursing facilities.Seniors who can function relatively independently and only require assistance with some everyday tasks. 
What Do the Facilities Look Like?Licensed nurses are available 24/7 to provide skilled services.Nursing staff are available 24/7, though there may be a contracted medical professional to oversee medical care.Staff are available to assist with daily tasks, but these facilities promote independent living. 
Is This Long-Term Care?Some senior patients may require long-term medical care. Other seniors may require short-term medical care, such as outpatient therapy, to rehabilitate from surgery or a medical condition before returning home.Long-term care option for seniors who don’t require extensive medical care but need ongoing assistance with their day-to-day living tasks. Long-term care for seniors who want to live independently and have a home-like living experience while still having staff to provide some assistance with everyday tasks. 
What Kind of Medical Care Can Seniors Receive?Patients can receive extensive 24/7 care from licensed professionals qualified to provide more complex medical care. Staff are trained to provide less intensive medical care that can be provided by non-licensed professionals.Staff provide limited medical care, such as reminding seniors to take their medicine or providing transportation to medical facilities. 

Skilled nursing facilities are best for seniors requiring comprehensive medical care after being discharged from a hospital. Some nursing homes and assisted living facilities can provide some form of skilled nursing care and have licensed staff to deliver this service. This is why it’s essential to research the care options available for your loved one. 

Who Needs Skilled Nursing Care?

Skilled nursing care is sought by those who need more medical care, assistance, and supervision due to their health conditions or disabilities. This may include:

  • Seniors with chronic conditions, such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease, may require 24-hour supervision and assistance with personal care and daily activities.
  • Patients recovering from a severe injury, illness, or surgery who may need specialized nursing care, rehabilitation services, and assistance with daily activities during their recuperation period.
  • Individuals with disabilities or complex medical conditions who require ongoing medical care and support from skilled nursing professionals, such as wound care, intravenous therapy, or medication management.
  • Patients who have been discharged from the hospital and require short-term rehabilitation services from registered nurses.
  • Individuals requiring end-of-life or hospice care who need specialized nursing care and support to manage their symptoms and provide comfort.

Who Can Provide Skilled Nursing Care?

Licensed medical practitioners and skilled nursing facilities must be certified by CMS. Once certified, they must meet certain criteria and undergo regular CMS inspections. Skilled nursing facilities often have the following staff to provide care:

  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Licensed vocational nurses
  • Physical therapists
  • Speech pathologists
  • Audiologists 
  • Medical directors

In addition to providing higher medical care, skilled nursing facilities often have a transfer agreement with a hospital. This allows them to send residents there in case of an emergency that requires medical intervention. 

Where To Seek Skilled Nursing Care

You can find skilled nursing care in the following facilities:

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities: These facilities offer short-term rehabilitation after an illness, injury, or surgery. They focus on rehabilitation services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and skilled nursing care.
  • Nursing Homes: These public or private residential facilities provide 24-hour skilled nursing care for seniors or individuals with chronic illnesses, disabilities, or medical conditions requiring specialized care.
  • Home Health Agencies: Some agencies offer skilled nursing care to individuals in their homes, allowing them to receive medical care and assistance with daily tasks. This may include wound care, medication management, IV therapy, and other skilled nursing services.
  • Hospitals: Some hospitals have specialized units or wings that offer skilled nursing care for patients requiring longer to recover from an illness, injury, or surgery.
  • Assisted Living Communities: Although primarily focused on assisting with daily tasks, some assisted living communities also offer skilled nursing care services on-site or through partnerships with nearby skilled nursing facilities.
  • Private Nursing: If you want to keep your loved one at home, you can hire registered nurses to provide around-the-clock care. Some patients only need one nurse to deliver care as needed, while others may require multiple nurses to provide constant monitoring. 

Does Your Loved One Need Skilled Nursing Care?

Your senior family member’s primary healthcare provider may recommend a skilled nursing facility to ensure your loved one has professionals monitoring their medical care. However, these are other factors to also consider:

  • Medical Needs: Does your loved one have complex medical needs and specialized treatment that your family can’t provide, such as wound care, injections, IV therapies, or other specialized treatments?
  • Assistance Needed: Besides medical care, does your loved one need help with daily activities such as bathing, dressing, toileting, or transferring from bed to chair or wheelchair?
  • Safety Concerns: Is your home’s facility designed to accommodate people with disabilities and those prone to falls? 
  • Cognitive Impairment: Does your loved one have conditions that affect their cognitive ability, such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, which make it difficult for them to understand their surroundings or follow instructions?
  • Hospitalizations: How frequently has your loved one required emergency or urgent medical care?
  • Caregiver Burnout: Is your family’s quality of life affected by accommodating your loved one’s extensive needs? Are family caregivers experiencing significant stress, fatigue, or other challenges that hinder the necessary level of care your senior loved one needs?
  • Accessibility: Are other services like home health care or adult day programs unavailable or insufficient to meet your loved one’s needs?
  • Financial Considerations: Can your loved one afford the cost of skilled nursing care, either through private funds, long-term care insurance, or Medicaid? Some seniors may qualify for Medicare coverage for skilled nursing facilities. 

Let Your Loved Ones Live Their Best Life at Mulberry Health

Skilled nursing care is crucial in ensuring the health and well-being of senior adults who require constant professional medical assistance and support. Facilities can provide comprehensive aid that helps patients achieve better health, comfort, or independence. Ultimately, understanding skilled nursing care and the facilities that offer it is essential to make informed decisions for our loved ones.

At Mulberry Health, we provide the best care your loved ones need to live comfortably. Whether they need short or long-term care, your senior loved ones receive compassionate and quality care in our facilities. Contact us today for more information. 


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