What to Look for in Skilled Nursing

 Part 1 in a 3 Part Series on Skilled Nursing

What to Look For

Back in the old days most people knew they would one day end up in an ‘old folks home’ as we used to call it.

Today many people are choosing to age in place and bring the care they need into the privacy of their own homes.

Yet, some people do need skilled nursing care– and in those cases a Skilled Nursing Facility is the perfect option.

By definition, a skilled nursing home is:

A place where “… care of every patient be under the supervision of a physician, that a physician be available on an emergency basis, that records of the condition and care of every patient be maintained, that nursing service be available 24 hours a day, and that at least one full-time registered nurse be employed… ” Source: The Free Dictionary.

Skilled nursing facilites offer care in a variety of ways:

Some offer care for those who have been discharged from the hospital, yet aren’t quite ready to return home.

Others use skilled nursing facilities for their Long Term Care needs- meaning this is where they will live the rest of their lives- receiving nursing care and sometimes hospice care.

Whatever your reason for needing a skilled nursing facility, there are many things you should consider before deciding on one. As soon as you know (or think) that skilled nursing is going to be needed, talk to as many people as you can (not just the hospital discharge planner) to find out which one best suits your personal needs.

If possible, it is highly recommended that you tour each facility on your list and look for certain things such as:

  • Is it well maintained inside and out?

  • Is the decor pleasing and warm?

  • Is the facility free from odors?

  • If there are odors, are they handled quickly?

  • Do all rooms have private bathrooms?

  • Are there electric beds?

  • Is the attitude of the nursing staff caring and friendly?

  • Are meals nutritious and appealing?

  • Is the kitchen clean and orderly?

  • Does a registered dietician, or professional service, plan meals?

  • Are there individual and group activities and a monthly calendar?

  • Are arts and crafts offered?

  • Are there special outings?

  • Are non Medicare patients allowed to visit home?

  • Do they have an active volunteer visiting program?

  • Do they provide in-house physical therapy?

  • Is speech and occupational therapy available?

  • Are therapists licensed?

  • Are religious services, or transportation to churches offered?

  • If privately owned, is the owner available?

  • If managed by an outside service, how do their other facilities compare?

  • What is the reputation in the surrounding community?

  • How does the facility treat residents with similar needs?

List provided by medicare.gov 


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