Nursing Home

Skilled Nursing Facilities and Nursing Homes

The terms “skilled nursing facility” and “nursing home” are often used interchangeably. Technically different services, they are similar to each other in many ways and are often offered under the same roof. The difference is that nursing homes are intended for long-term living while skilled nursing facilities are geared toward temporary stays focused on rehabilitation.

Residents of skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes receive 24-hour care from medical personnel. Certified nursing aides assist with most direct care, like bathing, walking, or getting out of bed. Nurses and therapists are readily available to assist with “skilled care” –  treatments that would be unsafe for others to perform.

When is it Time for Skilled Nursing?

Skilled nursing facilities provide the highest level of medical care possible outside of a hospital. If your loved one has been hospitalized with a serious condition and is ready for discharge, but not yet ready to come home, they might qualify for skilled nursing.

When is a Nursing Home Needed?

If your loved one can no longer live at home – or in their assisted living facility – because their medical or care needs are too great, moving into a nursing home might be a good option.

Medicaid usually pays only for nursing home care – rarely for assisted living or other long-term care settings – so if your loved one relies on Medicaid to pay for long-term care, they’ll likely need to find a nursing home.

Read more about the differences in coverage between Medicare and Medicaid.

How Much Does Skilled Nursing Cost?

Medicare Part A covers skilled nursing under limited circumstances– for example, when it’s medically necessary in order to recover from a significant hospitalization. They’ll pay for no more than 100 days per benefit period.

As far as nursing homes go, in 2021, the average annual cost of a semi-private room – one shared with a roommate – was $94,900. A private room came in at $108,405. These numbers represent a national average, but you can use Genworth’s Cost of Care Calculator to find the average cost of nursing homes in your area.

How to Find a Skilled Nursing Facility or Nursing Home

If your loved one is in a hospital and needs a skilled nursing facility for short-term rehabilitation, the hospital will help you find one and make the arrangements directly with the facility.

If you’d like to get a better sense of what skilled nursing facilities are available in your area – or if you’re looking for a nursing home for long-term care – you have a few options for finding facilities to compare.

First, figure out which facilities are available in your area. Use any or all of these steps:

  • Consult your Olera dashboard to find facilities in your area.
  • Check with your local Area Agency on Aging.
  • Ask your health care providers, friends, or neighbors for recommendations. Find out if your doctor visits any local nursing homes to provide on-site visits.
  • Visit Medicare’s Nursing Home Comparison website.

Consider what you need and want most:

  • Are you looking for the closest facility, a comfortable environment, a focus on dementia care, or a facility that allows pets?
  • Are there any deal-breakers that would automatically disqualify a potential facility? (For example, a facility where none of the staff speaks your loved one’s primary language.)

Once you’ve identified your options:

  • Call each nursing home.
  • Ask about costs, whether they have available rooms or waiting lists, and any deal-breakers that might exclude them from consideration.
  • Arrange to visit those that pass this initial screening.
  • Use Medicare’s Nursing Home Checklist as a guide when visiting.

After you’ve narrowed the options to the top two or three:

  • Visit your top picks again, unannounced, at a different time of day. Visit at least once during mealtime.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions of the management and staff.

Read more at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid official Guide to Choosing a Nursing Home.


Medicare coverage of skilled nursing facility care

How to Choose a Nursing Home | National Institute on Aging

What's the Difference Between a Skilled Nursing Facility and a Nursing Home? | AARP Medicare Plans

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