Skilled Nursing Homes

What Are They?


With the variety of senior living options available today, many of them may look and sound similar.

And while you might be tempted to call them all nursing homes or retirement homes, the differences between these types of senior living communities can be vast.

For instance, skilled nursing homes are senior care facilities that offer medical care on top of an array of other services that you or a family member may not be able to receive in another setting.

Learning more about skilled nursing can help you pick the right community that ensures you or your loved one get the right support. At Premier Senior Communities, we’ve created this guide to help you learn more and find a skilled nursing home

elderly woman smiling

What is a Skilled Nursing Home?

A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is a healthcare facility for older seniors who may require medical care on a daily and consistent basis.

Skilled nursing communities have at least one medical professional on staff, including doctors, therapists, and registered nurses. In addition to offering the services of professional caregivers, skilled nursing homes provide support for seniors who need extra assistance with mobility, hygiene, and more.

Staying in a skilled nursing home can be a short-term care option for patients recovering from injuries, specific conditions, or illnesses. If it’s medically necessary, you can extend a nursing home stay into permanent or long-term care.

In general, skilled nursing homes must pass regular inspections and continually meet strict standards in order to be certified by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Comparing Skilled Nursing with Other Senior Care Options

Once again, we know that the large selection of senior care options can get confusing, which is why we have listed the most common communities available from least amount of assistance offered to most below:


Independent living is for healthy, active older adults who do not need 24/7 medical care, but want the camaraderie and socialization of living in a community with other people of a similar age.


Assisted living is for seniors who have trouble with the activities of daily living and, in turn, require assistance from trained professionals.


Compared to assisted and independent living, nursing homes offer a higher level of care that includes frequent—but typically not daily— healthcare and personal care. A doctor may be readily available, however, it's more common for nursing homes to employ LPNs and RNs instead. Nursing homes are considered a type of long-term care plan.

Skilled Nursing Homes

As mentioned above, these communities provide personal care assistance and daily skilled nursing on an as-needed basis. Doctors, therapists, and licensed nurse practitioners are often on-hand full-time at skilled nursing homes.

Memory Care

Memory care is a unit for individuals with dementia or Alzheimer's that need support for specific care needs.

Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC)

These types of communities are designed to allow patients to "age in place" as they grow older and needs change. The seniors can easily transition between each level of care to get the proper amount of medical and personal care they need.

Who are Skilled Nursing Homes for?

Many residents in skilled nursing homes are individuals who require long-term, daily  care as well as medical attention from a trained medical professional.

If you or a loved one need regular medical care and assistance with the activities of daily living (ADLs), like eating, toileting, hygiene, and mobility, then skilled nursing home care may be the best option.

Most SNFs offer both short-term and long-term care for people who:
  • Require rehabilitation services
  • Require wound care
  • Have just been discharged from a hospital stay
  • Need occupational therapy or physical therapy after a surgery or injury
  • Have diabetes
  • Have Parkinson’s disease
  • Have acute or chronic conditions
  • Are in recovery after a stroke or heart attack

Skilled Nursing Home Services and Amenities

As noted,  a skilled nursing home may be for an older adult who needs high-quality care after an illness or hospitalization.

Here’s a list of services that you can expect from a skilled nursing home:
  • 24/7 skilled nursing care
  • Access to a healthcare center with the best medical equipment available
  • Semi-private or private room
  • Occupational, mental, and speech therapies
  • Medication management
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Exercise and wellness programs
  • Transportation services
  • Three meals a day plus snacks
  • Daily schedule of social activities
  • 24-hour security and supervision
  • Pandemic (i.e. COVID-19) response safety protocols

Paying for Skilled Nursing Homes

Unlike some other options for eldercare, many skilled nursing care homes may be covered by Medicare and Medicare Part A.

If you meet certain conditions, Medicare may cover the cost of your nursing home stay for a limited period of time. Medicare will pay for SNF care on top of medication, meals, and Medical Social Services for as long as 24-hour care is medically-necessary. When 24-hour care is preferred but NOT considered necessary, other options may still be available.

Keep in mind that Medicare typically does not cover long-term care. Furthermore, Medicaid and Medicare coverage can vary by state, so be sure to look at or check with your state’s office for further detail.

Veterans may be eligible for some benefits that help with different kinds of senior care. If you or your loved one qualify, contact the Department of Veterans Affairs to review benefits. 

[Many people utilize paying out of pocket, Social Security payouts, long-term care health insurance, and profits from selling a property in order to finance their stays in nursing homes and skilled nursing homes.]

Are you still unsure if a Skilled Nursing Home is the correct choice?

Premier Senior Communities wants to help you learn the difference between SNFs and nursing homes. Find the right senior living community for you or a loved one here!

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