Skilled nursing facilities may become a temporary or long-term necessity in a senior’s life, especially following an injury or a prolonged medical condition. It is important that seniors understand both the requirements for skilled nursing facilities and the benefits of a skilled nursing facilities when making a decision about senior housing options. Learning about the cost, especially what portions of that cost may be billable to an applicable insurance policy, is also important for all seniors contemplating skilled nursing homes. In the sections that have been provided below, you will receive an overview on what a skilled nursing facility is, when it becomes an option, the services that the facility provides and information about expected expenses.
What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?
It is important to understand what a skilled nursing facility is so you can be fully informed on the benefits and services that are provided to senior citizens who are in need intensive, specialized of care. These skilled nursing facilities provide a high level of medical care that is provided by trained individuals including physical therapists, registered nurses, speech therapists and occupational services. Skilled nursing facilities are often used either for a short-term rehabilitation period, typically following an illness or injury, or a long-term care option for patients who suffer from a chronic medical condition and need around-the-clock medical care. Seniors who do not need intensive medical care offered by skilled nursing facilities may wish to look into senior living options like assisted living facilities for semi-independent living that offers daily assistance.
In order to understand the benefits of skilled nursing facilities, you must first look at the services provided through these accommodations. For example, those skilled nursing facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid payments must offer certain services to be considered a Medicaid/Medicare provider. Even if you do not need the facility to accept Medicaid or Medicare payments, you should still learn about the available services so you can decide whether the facility will meet your needs. Skilled nursing facility services can include:
- Care for wounds
- Specialized rehabilitative services
- Medication services
- Dietary services that are individualized for each resident
- Room and bed maintenance services
- Routine personal hygiene items and services
Other services may include private rooms, specially prepared food, telephone, television access, radio access, cosmetic or grooming items and services, personal clothing, reading material and social events and activities. If you no longer need the services offered by a skilled nursing facility, you may wish to get more information about independent living facilities or assisted living options, depending on your needs after recovery.
Requirements for Skilled Nursing Facilities
In order to be a resident of skilled nursing facilities, whether a temporary or long-term resident, your doctor must make the decision that you are in need of daily skilled care. A skilled nursing facility can provide this care under direct supervision of either a therapy staff member or skilled nursing staff. Daily care typically consists of services that are required five or six days of the week. While a skilled nursing facility is often provided after a hospital stay in which further care will be needed, this is not always the case. You can speak with your family care provider if you believe that you may need the level of care given at one of these facilities for skilled nursing care. Additional requirements for skilled nursing facilities may be necessary to meet the requirements of a health insurance policy, such as Medicare. Skilled nursing facilities must offer specific types of care to be Medicare compliant. States can also determine some aspects of eligibility for skilled nursing facilities. However, not all health insurance policies will share the same requirements, and you are able to pay out of pocket if you so choose to do so.
What is the cost of Skilled Nursing Facilities?
The cost of skilled nursing facilities will vary widely between facilities, but can become quite expensive, even with some forms of health insurance coverage. Some skilled nursing facilities may require additional charges for services such as a private room, cosmetic and grooming items, access to telephone and television and special prepared rooms. Medicare Part A coverage plans may cover the care that is provided in a skilled nursing facility, if the facility accepts the Medicare payments. Additionally, you may be expected to pay a portion of your medical expenses through co-insurance. The amount of your co-insurance can increase, depending on the number of days that you spend in the skilled nursing facility. Given that a great deal of Medicare beneficiaries are often also on Medicaid, it is crucial that you understand that Medicaid may be able to cover additional services that are provided within a nursing facility, as well as provide a greater length of coverage in comparison to Medicare. If your doctor recommends that you become a resident of one of these facilities, it is important that you ask about what benefits of skilled nursing facilities will come with an additional fee and which services may be covered by any health insurance policy that you may hold.
How to Find a Skilled Nursing Facility Directory
Now that you understand what skilled nursing facilities are, the benefits and services they provide and some of your expected costs, it is important to understand how to review your options for these facilities in order to choose the facility that is best for you. While your doctor may make the recommendation for a skilled nursing facility, you can still choose as to whether or not you become a resident of a facility, and you can make a decision about a care facility that works best for you. If you need skilled nursing facility lists, your local Medicare or Medicaid office can help provide you with a list, or you can research available options near you. To learn more about senior housing options, download our free guide for senior citizens.