What Is Skilled Nursing Facility?

A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a nursing home, convalescent home, aged care home, rest home or old folk’s home certified for Medicare reimbursement.

SNF’s provide long-term care for elderly residents who require round-the-clock care. Around 1.5 million Americans currently live in nursing homes and this number is expected to increase considerably in the next 20-30 years.

At the moment, there are some 20,000 nursing homes in the United States and of the 1.9 million SNF beds available, 84% are Medicare certified and 94% Medicaid certified. To qualify for Medicare coverage in a skilled nursing facility, patients must obtain a medical certificate from their doctor confirming that they require daily skilled medical care.

RNs, LPNs, LVNs Provide The Care In A Skilled Nursing Facility

Medicare usually pays for doctors’ visits, full 24-hour nursing care, a shared room, meals including special diets, lab and X-ray services, prescription drugs, prosthetic devices and some medical supplies and equipment. The patient must enter the SNF within 30 days of leaving hospital.

Registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) and nursing aides provide 24-hour care for residents in a skilled nursing facility. They provide assistance with everything from bathing, eating and grooming and to administering prescription medicines, changing wounds, managing diabetes and other healthcare issues.

Other healthcare is provided by physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists, and audiologists. Many skilled nursing facilities offer specialized care for patients with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

A Skilled Nursing Facility Can Also Help With Rehabilitation After Surgery

Some SNFs are structured like a hospital so staff can provide physical, speech and occupational therapy. But most skilled nursing facilities are set-up like a regular nursing home that provides 24-hour supervision, meals and healthcare management of their residents.

RNs, LPNs, LVNs and nursing aides in a skilled nursing facility work closely with the patient’s doctor to provide the individual care that each elderly patient requires. Today it is quite common for a SNF to help with a patient’s rehabilitation after surgery.

Elderly people take a lot longer to recovery from invasive surgery so, for example, if a resident has had a hip replacement operation – a common operation for many old people – the SNF will manage their recovery and rehabilitation.

This will include physical therapy and a program to help the patient get mobile again as quickly as possible. This type of specialized care is very important and reassuring to elderly patients who are often unable to undertake the exercise programs on their own.

Because of the increasing demand for beds in a skilled care facility, this type of care is becoming more expensive. Medicare covers certain skilled care services that are needed daily on a short-term basis (up to 100 days) but many residents require long-term care and need additional health insurance to cover costs.

The cost of a private room in a SNF is around $205 dollars per day while a shared room can cost a resident $180 a day. It is quite common for a married couple to live together in a skilled nursing facility when they reach an age where both required constant care.

Choosing a good skilled nursing facility is crucial for your proper healthcare. Some hospitals actually have their own skilled nursing facility units but it is more common for the SNF to operate independently.

It’s best to look around your local area for a good skilled nursing facility. It’s easy to find a list of Medicare and Medicaid certified nursing homes right across the country. Then make a call to the nursing home to make sure that it provides skilled care,

If you are already in a hospital and are looking for a nursing home to live in after your are discharged, ask the hospital’s discharge planner or social worker to recommend a good skilled nursing facility in your city and help you to secure a bed.

Also ask people you trust, like your doctor, family, friends, neighbors, or clergy if they have had personal experience with SNFs. They will probably be able to give you the name and contact details of a good skilled nursing facility that they had worked with in the past.

Another good way to find a good SNF is to contact the Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging. It can connect you to services for the elderly and their families. They can be reached on 1-800-677-1116 (weekdays 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time).

The demand for skilled nursing facilities is expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades. America’s population is aging rapidly and millions of Baby Boomers are entering their twilight years. Many are going to require healthcare in nursing homes simply because Americans are living a lot longer these days.

The demand for registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses and nursing aides to work in SNFs is increasing exponentially as well. And there has been a concerted push by the Federal Government to promote community healthcare so people are taken care of in their community and close to where they live and work.

If you are considering entering the nursing profession, think about working in a SNF. Your nursing skills will be perfect for the geriatric residents of a skilled nursing facility in your city.