Staff ratios, certifications, therapists on-staff . . . there are so many factors to consider when having to choose a nursing facility. Most importantly, does the site provide quality care? Below we walk through the challenges, the types of facilities, and what to look for, as you look to select the long-term care facility that is right for you.
Challenges of Finding a Quality Nursing Facility
Your first task is to understand what type of facility you need. If you’re coming from a hospital or other facility, your doctors and nurses will help. Here are some of the terms you might hear.
Types of Nursing Facilities – Skilled Nursing, Nursing Homes, and More
The services available at nursing facilities differ, though there is some crossover.
Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)
A skilled nursing facility, or SNF, is geared toward people who are recovering from an injury or hospital stay. Residents receive help with dressing, bathing, and other activities of daily living, as well as services like physical and occupational therapy to aid your recovery.
Despite people using the two terms interchangeably these days, a skilled nursing facility and a nursing home aren’t the same. While SNFs are structured for rehabilitation and temporary care, nursing homes are exactly that — homes. Instead of condition-specific care geared toward discharge, nursing homes provide routine support for ongoing needs.
Rehabilitation centers are designed specifically to help patients recover their independence after an injury or illness. Patients are usually transferred to these facilities after hospital stays to receive physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and related services. Patients also receive nursing care and help with daily needs.
Long-Term Acute Care Hospital (LTACH)
As you might assume, a long-term acute care hospital provides hospital-level care for people who need to stay for an extended period. In most cases, LTACH patients stay for 25 days or more.
A long-term care hospital usually takes patients who are expected to improve, but who may take time to do so.
Making the Best Choice
Some people enter nursing facilities from their homes; others transfer from a hospital. The latter option is often easier because your care team is there to determine the next steps.
When a hospital sends you somewhere for post-acute care, it’s easy to feel intimidated. Where are you going? Is it any good?
To help patients answer these questions, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has finalized two rules for discharge planning.
- Hospitals are now required to provide patients with access to post-acute facilities’ quality scores and outcome results, including rates of pressure ulcers and hospital readmissions.
- Any skilled nursing facility with reports of abuse, neglect, or patient exploitation will have a consumer alert marked next to its name on Medicare’s Nursing Home Compare
Take advantage of these rules and research the material you’re given when you’re getting ready to leave the hospital.
Quality Checks and Certifications
As a patient or family member, you have the right to learn how others have rated a facility. Nursing Home Compare is a great resource, but you should also check the facility’s ratings regarding any special medical needs you might have.
If you have wound care needs, or if you’re worried about pressure ulcers (commonly known as “bedsores”), check out a facility’s quality status using the Vohra Center of Excellence Finder. Skilled wound care staff means that a facility takes the well-being and safety of its patients seriously.
Few things are more important for seniors than selecting the proper facility to meet their long-term needs. Make sure you are equipped with the right knowledge to make the right decision.
About the Author:
Kathy St. Fleur is a registered nurse with over 15 years of experience in healthcare administration, nursing, and case management. She currently serves as the Director of Intake Services for Vohra Wound Physicians. She lives in south Florida with her four children. Kathy is passionate about helping other nurses expand and enhance their careers both at the bedside and beyond.
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