Skilled Nursing Facility – What Kind of Care can you Expect?


It is important to distinguish between types of care to understand what skilled nursing is. Some people confuse it with assisted living, which is for the elderly who are in reasonable or good health and don’t need full-time nursing, and are relatively independent, but might need assistance with daily tasks. On the other hand, skilled nursing is carried out by qualified nurses and therapists for people who cannot take care of themselves. This could be temporary, such as a stroke victim who receives occupational and physical therapy to regain the use of their limbs and become functional again. Other patients have become permanently infirm due to illness and age-related conditions.

With this understanding in mind, we look at the kind of care you should expect from a nursing home. It is important to choose a facility that provides a quality service if you are looking for a permanent nursing home for a parent. 

Quality of Service

The U.S. Department of Health and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is the governing authority of skilled nursing facilities. The latter must receive certification from the former and are regularly inspected. This is the first thing to check for when considering a nursing facility. Ask to see their results for the last three years. Keep in mind that an ‘average’ or 3-star overall rating most likely includes some measures that were marked ‘below average’. Don’t consider a facility that doesn’t have a 4-star or 5-star score consistently.


When patients are released from the hospital after surgery or a stroke, or treatment for heart disease or kidney problems, etc., many of them need continuous care before being well enough to go home.  The physician can arrange for therapy in a nursing home setting to fully rehabilitate the patient. This will be paid for by Medicare, provided the facility is on the insurer’s list, which limits the choice of nursing facilities you can consider.

Therapies Provided

Therapies provided include speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. 

Speech and language therapy is needed for a patient who has dysphagia or struggles to communicate through speech. Additionally, where speech capabilities have been lost completely, assistance will be given to regain these abilities, or else alternate methods of communication are taught.

Occupational therapy helps the patient relearn the use of body parts and motor skills that were damaged by a stroke. This therapist provides strategies to make it easier to get dressed, pick up small objects, coordinate arms and legs, and memory skills.

Physical therapy determines the recovery plan for each patient, which is designed to restore mobility, regain functionality, and decrease pain.

The Elderly 

At some point, residents of assisted living facilities, such as, experience a decline in their health. They start to need help with all the ADL tasks and require constant monitoring. Some patients have a decrease in mental health, for example, by showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease. Roughly half of the sufferers of this condition get lost or wander off. Thus, strict security is needed to protect them from harm.

All of these examples are candidates for skilled nursing care. This entails 24/7 supervision, being placed in diapers, requiring to be spoon-fed, dispensing medication, being turned frequently to prevent bed sores, and being lifted from bed to chair and back again.  Suitable activities will be used to provide stimulation. 

It is important to choose a skilled nursing facility that will take the best possible care of your loved one.

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