What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility?
Skilled Nursing Facility is a term used to describe a residential facility that provides on-site 24-hour medical care. The Skilled Nursing Facility provides what is termed as Skilled Nursing Care. Skilled nursing care is a high level of medical care that must be provided by trained individuals, such as registered nurses (RNs) and physical, speech, and occupational therapists. These services can be necessary over the short term for rehabilitation from an illness or injury, or they may be required over the long term for patients who need care on a frequent or around-the-clock basis due to a chronic medical condition.
Examples of skilled nursing services include wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy, injections, physical therapy, and monitoring of vital signs and medical equipment. The Skilled Nursing Facility itself can be described as a special facility or part of a hospital that provides medically necessary professional services from nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and audiologists. Skilled nursing facilities provide round-the-clock assistance with healthcare and activities of daily living.
Skilled Nursing facilities (SNFs) also provide additional rehabilitation and recovery after hospital discharge before return home. During a person’s stay at a Skilled Nursing Facility, registered nurses will care for one’s wound, give the right medicines, and monitor other medical problems, also the physical therapists will aid in making the muscles stronger and the occupational therapists will help one to regain skills needed to perform daily tasks at home. The speech and language therapists will help treat swallowing, understanding, and speaking.
History of Skilled Nursing Facility
Historically, there has always been a need for the provision of healthcare-specific to elderly individuals and other vulnerable populations. In medieval times, principally in the 13th century, a movement of women based in feminism ideology and spirituality lay the groundwork for care of the sick and needy. Originating in Northern Europe, these sisterhoods were called Beguines. Within America, the beginning of care of the elderly and feeble rested in the hands of family, and in particular, the responsibility fell to the women of the family. By the 1900s, the colonial almshouse became the first institution in America to resemble institutionalized management of care for poor, elderly and disabled. Given that hospitals at this time were primarily concerned with curative and acute care, almshouses became the default care location for chronically ill elderly individuals. The 1930s and the reign of President Roosevelt encouraged greater acknowledgment of the needs of elderly citizens; resulting in the establishment of Social Security and Old Age Assistance in 1935. This administrative reform aimed to provide elderly individuals with a steady source of income, which would allow them to better care for themselves. Gradually, the Skilled Nursing Facility emerged to provide better all round the clock care.
Difference Between Skilled Nursing Facility and Nursing Home
Nursing Homes are now commonly known as skilled nursing facilities, they serve as licensed healthcare residences for individuals who require a higher level of medical care than can be provided in an assisted living facility. Skilled nursing staff consisting of RNs, LPNs, and certified nurses’ aides (CNAs) are available to provide 24-hour medical attention. Skilled nursing facilities are commonly used for short-term rehabilitative stays. Extending stays into longer-term care must be medically necessary for the treatment of a serious medical condition and is largely dependent on state and federal benefit regulations. In order to be certified, Skilled Nursing Facilities must meet strict criteria and are subject to periodic inspections to ensure that quality standards are being met. One major difference between nursing homes and Skilled Nursing Facility is the range and depth of medical services available in SNFs. In fact, doctors, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and other medical personnel, such as physical therapists and speech therapists, can be common sights in SNFs. In a nursing home, you might never see a doctor step inside. You usually go to an SNF after a hospital stay, and you could be a better fit for an SNF not a nursing home if you need help with a medical issue such as:
- Stroke recovery
- Wound care
- Rehab after an illness or operation
- Terminal illness
- Serious memory issues
- Around-the-clock care
The personnel at SNFs can help with daily living tasks such as feeding, using the bathroom, and getting dressed like they would at a nursing home. Often, those who enter an SNF are there for the short term. They go home, to assisted living or to a nursing home when they recover. Some people in SNFs however do have chronic or terminal conditions and stay for the long term. It is also possible to receive skilled nursing care right in your own home.
For example, someone such as a registered nurse may visit you daily, or you might receive physical therapy or speech therapy at home. In-home skilled nursing care providers help with IVs such as those for chemo, occupational, physical, and speech therapy, catheters, line dressing changes, feeding tubes and other forms of nutrition, mediports, wound care, blood draws and injections, health monitoring and training of family members to perform some procedures among others.
Who Needs to Go to Skilled Nursing Facility?
A health care provider can decide that you no longer need the amount of care provided in the hospital, but you need more care than you and your loved ones can manage at home. This decision can be based on the fact that you need to be able to safely use your cane, walker, crutches, or wheelchair, get in and out of a chair or bed without needing much help, move safely between your sleeping area, bathroom, and kitchen, and go up and down stairs if there is no other way to avoid them in your home. Other factors that necessitate the need for Skilled Nursing Facility includes:
- Not enough help at home
- Because of where you live, you need to be stronger or more mobile before going home
- Medical problems, such as diabetes, lung problems, and heart problems, that are not well controlled
- Medicines that cannot safely be given at home
- Surgical wounds that need frequent care
- Joint replacement surgery, such as for the knees, hips, or shoulders
- Stroke or other brain injury.
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