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When to Consider Skilled Nursing Care

When an aging loved one needs care, the last thing family members want to deal with is the struggle of finding appropriate care in a timely manner. Knowing more about senior health care options ahead of time can help you be more prepared. Here’s what you need to know about skilled nursing and when to consider it. 

What Is Skilled Nursing?

Skilled nursing care is a high level of medical care provided by trained individuals. This care can be for short-term rehabilitation or long-term for chronic conditions. Staff typically consists of registered nurses, licensed practical nurses and certified nurses’ aides, who are available to provide 24-hour medical attention. Skilled nursing services are available in a variety of settings, including a senior’s home, but are often provided in a skilled nursing facility, which is a licensed residential health care facility. You can find this level of care at a stand-alone facility, or as part of a continuum of care at a senior living community.

Skilled nursing care services can include:

  • Wound care cleaning wounds and administering antibiotics for infection
  • Physical, speech or occupational therapy helping patients recover after an extended illness, injury or surgery
  • Intravenous (IV) therapy delivering medications, fluids or nutrition directly into the bloodstream
  • Acute medical care monitoring vital signs and equipment, administering injections, managing pain, and other services to help patients with illness, infection or injury

When to Consider Skilled Nursing

Skilled nursing care is generally needed:

  1. If an illness is acute but no longer requires hospitalization, and
  2. Home care and outpatient care are inadequate to manage that illness

Potential candidates for skilled nursing care include those who are dealing with an ongoing health condition or disability, chronic or severe pain, a chronic medical condition, permanent disability, dementia, or those who need help with activities of daily living.

Specific conditions that often require a stay in skilled nursing include:

  • Cardiac failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Fall-related injury
  • Hip or bone fracture
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Severe osteoarthritis
  • Stroke
  • Other major illness

Questions to Ask

When considering skilled nursing care, try to schedule a visit and ask questions like these:

  • Are you for-profit or nonprofit?
  • What care services do you offer?
  • Is this facility certified by Medicaid and Medicare?
  • What’s the average length of stay?
  • Are family members included in creating resident care plans?
  • What are the qualifications for therapy staff?
  • Are there background checks for staff?
  • Can residents bring personal belongings and furniture?

Make notes about the facility itself.

  • Is it well lit?
  • Is it free from unpleasant odors?
  • Is it clean and well kept?
  • Are residents clean, well groomed and appropriately dressed?
  • How does the staff treat residents?
  • Does staff knock on the door before entering a room?
  • Are there spaces for family and friends to visit?
  • Are there working smoke detectors and sprinklers?

What to Expect

You’ll find a variety of environments and amenities, but most skilled nursing facilities offer:

  • Comfortable private or semiprivate rooms
  • Three meals per day
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Social programs and activities

At Essex Meadows, we offer personalized care in a homelike setting. Our meals are chef prepared, and rooms have cable TV, phone service and Wi-Fi. Our health center has achieved a 5-Star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and is repeatedly named one of the nation’s Best Nursing Homes by U.S. News & World Report.

If you want to be prepared before your aging loved one needs skilled nursing care, you can learn more about us here.