skilled nursing facilities

What is a skilled nursing facility?

Whether you’re preparing for retirement, or are in the midst of a health crisis, you may wish to learn more about skilled nursing facilities and how they might fit into your care needs. Skilled nursing facilities provide around-the-clock care and rehabilitation services, including therapy. They offer meals and socialization opportunities. Most importantly, they ensure that their residents get the medical care they need. With the right level of care, residents at these facilities can make significant strides toward recovery—or age gracefully in longtime comfort. This article will explore the pros and cons of each situation so you can make a more informed decision about what’s best for them.

What is a Skilled Nursing Facility

A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a special type of long-term care that provides on-site medical care and rehabilitation services to residents. With professional help from nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, doctors, and more, individuals can recover from injury or illness in a safe environment. They may also receive assistance with daily activities like bathing and eating once they’ve reached their recovery goals.

Who Needs Skilled Nursing Care?

Individuals may need skilled nursing services after several types of medical events:


After being released from the hospital following an injury or illness, many people need time to recover before they return home. If you need help getting back on your feet after a hospital stay, a skilled nursing facility can offer the support you need.


If you’ve experienced an injury or are dealing with an illness that requires rehabilitation services to regain strength and independence in your day-to-day life, skilled nursing facilities provide these services under the supervision of trained professionals.

Chronic medical conditions

Many individuals have medical conditions that require ongoing monitoring by healthcare providers. If you live with a chronic condition that needs constant attention, you might consider living in a skilled nursing facility so specialized staff can tend to your unique health needs.

Skilled nursing facility services

Skilled nursing facilities provide medically necessary care to patients who need assistance with daily activities. Services provided by skilled nursing facilities include:

Medical care and treatment

Skilled nursing facility staff members are trained in the medical care of patients who have serious illnesses or injuries and require assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing and dressing. Skilled nursing facility staff members may also give medication to residents on a regular basis, depending on the needs of each resident.

Physical therapy

Skilled nursing facilities may provide physical therapy services for residents who have been hospitalized for an extended period of time or who are recovering from surgery. Physical therapists teach residents how to safely perform basic physical activities, such as walking or sitting up from a lying position without falling over. 

They also teach residents how to safely do many common activities of daily living (ADLs), such as bathing, dressing, eating, and transferring from one place to another. Physical therapists also evaluate whether a resident has any problems doing ADLs and provide treatment if necessary.

SNF benefits


Skilled nursing facilities provide the staff and facilities to get patients heading in the right direction. Some SNFs have specialized programs that may offer additional benefits depending on your situation.


Many people prefer skilled nursing facilities because they’re located close to home and offer round-the-clock care.

Medication management

The nursing staff will monitor your medications and make sure you take them correctly. They’ll also help ensure that your prescriptions aren’t interacting with each other in negative ways.

Dietary management

If you have special dietary needs due to allergies or other conditions, the staff at an SNF can make sure they’re met while you’re staying there. 

SNF considerations

As you can see, selecting a skilled nursing facility for your loved one is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. The following are some factors to consider when choosing an SNF:


Although the cost of care may be partially covered by Medicare, it’s possible that more money will need to come from other sources, such as savings or insurance policies. Even if the cost of care is fully covered by Medicare or another health insurance policy, it’s important to understand what your loved one’s out-of-pocket costs will be. 

These may include services that aren’t covered by Medicare and/or a monthly premium. It’s also important to understand if the facility has any programs in place to provide financial assistance.


When considering location, there are two things to take into account: where your loved one currently lives and how close you want the facility to be. If your loved one currently lives alone but would like to continue living in their home, you may want to find a skilled nursing facility that isn’t too far away so they can still visit with friends and family on occasion. If they currently live with family members or friends but want their own space, look for facilities near where they live now so that they don’t lose touch with their support network. 


Make sure that the facility offers the type of program you want, such as short-term rehab or long-term care. Your doctor may recommend specific types of therapy, such as physical therapy for an injury or occupational therapy for an illness such as Alzheimer’s disease.

Quality ratings and reviews

Check out Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare website to see how each facility rates on quality measures like staff training and infection control practices. You can also read reviews from former residents and families who have experienced care at each facility before deciding where to send your loved one.


Each skilled nursing facility has different specialties and services, so it’s important to do your research before making a decision. You might want to look into which facilities are best for rehabilitation, or others that provide exceptional cognitive care. There is also the option of choosing a skilled nursing facility that focuses more on medical care.

Skilled nursing facilities will be there for you when you need them most and can provide life-changing assistance when other services simply won’t do.

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GreySteps is where you will learn how to find the best senior care options for yourself or loved ones. We provide guides and resources for independent living, long-term acute care hospitals, hospice and other senior care options.