News &Views

What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility? All of Your Questions Answered

December 2018
what is a skilled nursing facility

Over 40 million Americans currently serve as a caregiver for an aging parent.

If you’re part of this group, you know how challenging it can be. Some people may have even suggested that you look into a skilled nursing facility so your parent or loved one can receive specialized care.

But, what is a skilled nursing facility exactly? How can it benefit your parent or loved one? How is it different from other types of nursing care?

Read on to have all your questions about skilled nursing facilities answered.

What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

A skilled nursing facility offers a high level of medical care. Skilled nursing services must be provided by a highly trained individual, such as a registered nurse, physical therapist, or occupational therapist.

Types of Skilled Nursing Services

Some skilled nursing services are only needed for short periods of time, such as after someone has experienced an injury, a serious illness, or a hospital stay.

Other times, skilled nursing services are administered to those who suffer from chronic conditions and need round-the-clock care.

Skilled nursing services may be offered in an assisted living facility or nursing home. They may also be offered as an outpatient treatment option.

What Services Can Skilled Nurses Provide?

There are many different types of services provided at a skilled nursing facility, including the following:

Skilled nursing services are needed to treat individuals suffering from or recovering from a wide range of conditions, including the following:

Skilled nursing services can also be used to treat more general conditions, including general weakness associated with age or general wound care.

Skilled Nursing Facility Vs. Nursing Home

There are many similarities between a skilled nursing facility and a traditional nursing home. One primary difference, though, is the depth of care and range of services available.

In a skilled nursing facility, you’re much more likely to have contact with skilled medical professionals (registered nurses, doctors, physical therapists, etc.).

How to Choose a Skilled Nursing Facility

If you think your parent or loved one could benefit from skilled nursing services, it’s important to make sure you’re choosing the right facility for their needs.

These guidelines can help you find the best facility with the most qualified staff:

Ask About Staffing Levels

Most nursing facilities have a relatively high level of staff turnover. But, if none of the facility’s employees have been around for more than a few years, that’s a red flag.

There should be some staff members who have been working at the specific facility for quite a few years and seem satisfied with their job.

Be sure to ask about staffing on weekends, during the evenings, and over holidays. Will your parent or loved one get the care they need at all times, or will there be periods when the staff is stretched too thin?

Consider Staff Experience and Licensing

In addition to asking about staffing levels, be sure to ask about the facility’s licensing requirements and the staff members’ levels of experience.

Are all the staff members’ licenses current? Do they have experience caring for people with your parent’s specific condition?

Ask About the Activities Offered

If your parent or loved one is going to be staying in a skilled nursing facility, there ought to be a steady stream of different activities available to them throughout the day. Ideally, there will be both indoor and outdoor activities.

Ask to speak to the facility’s activity director and find out what they offer. Are there activities your parent or loved one will enjoy? Do they provide opportunities for residents to give feedback and make suggestions for future activities?

Many skilled nursing facilities may even post the events and activities on their websites and social media if you don’t want to ask directly.

Pay Attention to the Other Residents

While you’re taking a tour of the facility, pay attention to the other residents. Do they seem happy? Are they engaged in games or activities? Are they neatly groomed and clean?

Pay attention to how the staff members interact with the residents, too. Are they polite and friendly, or do they seem rushed and distant?

Check to see if there are any visiting families at the facility during your tour. If there are, stop and ask them whether they’re satisfied with the care their loved one is receiving.

Eat a Meal at the Facility

If you can, try to eat a meal at the facility, too. This will help you determine the quality of the food and see if it’s something your loved one or parent can eat on a regular basis.

If you can’t eat a meal there, at least ask about the types of meals offered. Are there registered dieticians on staff? This is a good sign the facility cares about providing residents with nutritious, balanced meals.

Ask if the facility is able to accommodate specific dietary needs, too.

And, pay attention to the way they serve the meals. Do all residents eat separately in their rooms, or do they eat meals together in one large dining area?

Make Sure the Facility is Clean

The facility ought to be clean and should not have any strong odors.

Everything should be dusted and polished – you shouldn’t notice stains or large collections of dust during your tour.

Be on the lookout for a strong air freshener scent, too – this is often a sign they’re trying to cover up an unpleasant odor.

Look for Reports of Complaints or Violations

Finally, do some online research to find out if there are any complaints against the facility or reports of violations.

Check with the Better Business Bureau and online review platforms such as Yelp to make sure there aren’t any serious issues – housekeeping problems, complaints of neglect, etc.

Want to Learn More About Skilled Nursing Facilities?

You now have a clear answer to the question, “What is a skilled nursing facility?” Are you interested in taking a tour of one for yourself?

At Arbors, we serve many communities throughout the state of Ohio, and we can help you, too.

Contact us today to schedule a tour or to learn more about our services and how they can benefit your loved one.


Contact