Modern nursing homes are not what we picture from years ago. They can be large, luxurious, pleasant home-like environments providing comfortable living space, beautiful gardens, restaurant-style dining, social activities, and a full-time dedicated staff of caregivers.
Why Should You Consider Skilled Nursing Care?
A nursing home, also known as a skilled nursing facility, is for residents who require medical attention that can only be provided by a licensed nurse or doctor. Skilled nursing care is available through in-home care, or in a nursing home facility where they have the staff on hand to provide medical care 24 hours a day.
Types of Medical Services in a Nursing Home
Skilled nursing homes provide the highest level of medical care outside of a hospital. For residents with complex medical conditions, a skilled nursing facility is the best fit.
There are several types of medical services provided in a nursing home which include the following:
- Short-Term Care: This may be after a difficult surgery when the patient is still recovering but has been released from the hospital.
- Long-Term Care: Long-term care provides ongoing access to a range of physical, speech, and occupational therapies. This may also include respite, palliative, home health, and hospice care.
- Physical Therapy: This may be necessary after an illness, surgery or hospitalization.
- Occupational Therapy: After an illness or surgery, occupational therapy can help to re-learn basic skills like getting dressed, memory training and coordination exercises.
- Speech Therapy: Addresses communication issues and swallowing dysfunction. Speech and language pathologists design a treatment plan to help with language ability, provide alternate communication strategies and give appropriate diet recommendations.
- Stroke Recovery: After a stroke, skilled nursing homes can help patients regain motor skills.
- Parkinson’s Disease Care: Not all facilities offer this service, so be sure to check ahead of time.
- General Wound Care: Gives antibiotics for wound care and helps to make sure the wound does not get infected.
- Acute Medical Conditions: Offers services to deal with an injury, illness, or infection.
- Medication Administration: This includes managing prescription schedules, dosage, and injections if necessary.
- Oral Care: Routine dental visits, as well as emergency services, are available within the facility.
- Nutritious Meals: Meals are individual and always meet the daily nutritional requirements and the unique dietary needs of each resident, including pureed and liquid diets.
- Help With Personal Care: Personal care includes activities of daily life such as dressing, bathing, and toileting.
- Safety: A skilled nursing facility has additional safety features including grab bars, ADA-accessible spaces, and alarmed doorways.
- Mobility Assistance: If a resident needs assistance walking or using a wheelchair, the staff in nursing homes can help with mobility.
- Social Activities & Outings: While physical care comes first, these facilities also care for the emotional and social wellbeing of residents.
- Housekeeping and Laundry: All general cleaning and laundry are taken care of by the skilled nursing staff.
Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing
Assisted living residents may receive some assistance with activities of daily living, but do not require the daily medical care of skilled nursing residents.
Typically, assisted living residents are more independent than those in nursing homes.
When is Skilled Nursing Care Needed?
Nursing homes can be a big change for both elderly patient and their families. When it’s no longer safe for a senior to live on their own at home, or when their medical care requires more attention, it might be time to consider placement with skilled nursing care.
Consider these signs to look for that may indicate it’s time for a change.
- Recent, complex, progressive, or cognitive health conditions that require additional expertise that family and friends may not be qualified to handle.
- When your parent or grandparent needs help with daily activities like dressing, bathing, and toileting and can’t complete basic functions on their own and can no longer walk or ambulate without the assistance of another person.
- When recovering from an injury, stroke, or surgery, the patient is not ready to live on their own at home yet but has been discharged from the hospital.
- When your loved ones need access to 24-hour skilled medical care to monitor their condition.
- Frequent falls can be extremely detrimental to aging adults and are often a sign that they need more supervision and additional help throughout the day.
- People who are wheelchair-bound and cannot get around by themselves.
- When they can no longer feed themselves or maintain their dental health.
7 Benefits of Living in a Nursing Home
Nursing homes have a number of advantages making them an excellent choice for those who are struggling to cope in their own homes. Despite a difficult transition for some families, making this choice is providing so many additional benefits to your loved one.
- Comfortable and Safe Environment: A nursing home is designed specifically for the needs of the elderly with additional safety features they require. They are comfortable, quiet, and peaceful with constant help nearby.
- Customized Care Options: The nursing staff will customize their care to meet the needs and preferences of your loved one with dignity and respect.
- Healthcare Services: Trained medical professionals are always on hand at a nursing home to deal with any medical problems that may arise quickly. They ensure all medication is delivered correctly and on time and daily monitoring provides an accurate recording of any changes in their condition.
- Encouraging Independence: While help is nearby, nursing homes still encourage and support independence and allow residents to spend their time as they choose.
- Social Engagement: Loneliness is not the only option. In nursing homes, there is always someone to talk to, activities offered and outings to keep the residents active.
- Regular Mealtimes: Many times, old people fail to feed themselves properly or regularly. A nursing home ensures they receive healthy and delicious meals throughout the day.
- Relieving the Strain on Family Members: In addition to caring for your loved ones, nursing homes alleviate the burden of family members who don’t have the time, space, or qualifications to adequately care for their parents or grandparents at home.
How To Choose the Right Nursing Home?
Whether you need short-term help, or a long-term solution, finding the right nursing home can be overwhelming.
Our team of transition specialists maintains a wide network of skilled care facilities in and around Louisville. Start with the following steps to choose the right nursing home for your loved one.
Determine the Right Location: Most family members will want to choose a facility that is nearby so they can visit frequently or choose somewhere with beautiful weather throughout the year. Sometimes, this means moving your loved one out of the state where they currently live. Don’t limit your options by geography, choose what will be the best fit for your loved one.
Consider What Level of Care Your Loved One Will Need: Perhaps they have had an unexpected downturn, a devastating fall, or a sudden stroke that has left them unable to care for themselves. Talk with doctors and other family members to determine the level of care your loved one will need.
Ask About Restraint and Sedation Rates: This may be an uncomfortable question to ask, but it’s important information to have. Restraint and sedation rates should be easily disclosed and as close to zero as possible. A two or three percent rate is acceptable, while anything above ten percent should be a red flag.
Look Into Rules and Routines: Are bedtimes and mealtimes strictly enforced or do the residents control their own schedule? You want to ensure that your loved one isn’t forced to wake up early to take a shower or restricted to only a small window at mealtime.
Visit the Facility First: Don’t choose placement until you have been to the facility in person yourself. You can learn a lot by touring the facility, talking to staff members and observing the other residents.
Ask About Staff Ratios and Training: You want to ensure that your loved one will get the attention they need. A one-to-five ratio indicates a very high level of care. When you ask this question, clarify to ensure that kitchen and laundry staff are not being included in the ratio. Ask if your loved one will receive care from the same staff, so they aren’t constantly being showered with new and unfamiliar faces.
Check Out the Food: If possible, ask to sample a meal or at least take a look at the menu. See if they have options that your loved one will enjoy and ask about special dietary restrictions including allergies, vegetarian options, or gluten-free meals if those are a concern.
Check Out the Activities: Ask to look at a recent schedule of activities or inquire about the daily routine of residents. What types of group or individual activities are available to them throughout the day?
Consider a Short Stay Before Committing: Don’t feel rushed to make a decision and sign a contract. Instead, ask for a brief trial stay for a week or two. While not all types of facilities offer this respite stay, it’s worth asking.
Find a Facility with a Proven Track Record: Do your research, look for compliance and accreditation reports, talk to other residents or families. This information can help you learn about how the facility has served others in the past.
Medical Staff at Nursing Homes
The medical staff at nursing homes is more extensive than you’ll find at other facilities. There are five main areas of medical staff available at all times.
- Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Vocational or Practical Nurses (LVN, LPNs): An RN, LVN, or LPN will be in charge of treating patients with various medical conditions, maintain medical histories, perform diagnostic tests, manage and administer medication, and work closely the resident’s doctor to administer therapies and treatments as necessary.
- Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA): The CNA’s role typically involves assisting patients with activities of daily living, basic tasks that include bathing, grooming, toileting, eating, and moving.
- Nursing Home Dietician: The dietician works closely with the kitchen staff to plan and prepare meals that support the nutritional needs of the residents.
- Administration and Support Employees: Additional employees are there to help the residents and run the administrative side of the building. These include management as well as volunteers and support staff that provides companionship and attention to each resident.
- Therapists: Physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech therapists work with patients to help them improve their mobility, functions, and communication so they can maintain their skills and/or increase their independence.
Skilled Nursing Costs
On average the cost of care in nursing homes is about $275 per day. The monthly costs for skilled nursing care range from $7,650 for a semi-private room to $8,700 for a private room on average in the U.S.
For accurate pricing, estimate contact Patti Naiser at Senior Home Transitions.
How To Pay for Nursing Homes’ Costs?
Most families are not prepared for the additional cost of skilled nursing care. However, there are a few options you may have to cover the cost without bankrupting the family.
- Talk to a Senior Care Advisor: Senior Home Transitions in Louisville, KY works with a wide range of senior housing options to help families find the best option for them. Working with a senior care advisor allows you access to a wide network of resources and our services are completely free.
- Medicare: Medicare will pay for 20 days of care and a percentage of care for up to 100 days. However, this is only after the patient has been hospitalized and discharged.
- Medicaid: Medicaid may be able to help with nursing home care based on the applicant’s income and financial assets. If an individual qualifies, Medicaid may pay for the cost of nursing home care.
- Veterans Administration Aid and Attendance: There are two options for veterans and surviving spouses, one is based on income and financial assets while the other is based on disability.
- Long Term Care Insurance: Long-term care insurance must be purchased before the nursing home is needed. In aging adults, the monthly premiums for these policies escalate quickly and may not be beneficial overpaying the cost of care.
- Cash/Private Pay: Those with the ability can simply pay out of pocket, but even well-prepared families will find that paying for long-term care can be financially devastating to the life savings of the resident.
- Nursing Home Tax Deductions: Nursing home care including medical procedures as well as room and board are both deductible.
How to Deal with Moving Your Loved Ones to a Nursing Home
The most common emotion that comes with moving into a nursing home is guilt. Even if you know the nursing home is the best option, it doesn’t make it easier. Stress, anxiety, and concern are all normal reactions that often accompany guilt. To alleviate the hardship that come with transition, consider the following:
- Realize that you didn’t cause your loved one’s illnesses or age-related decline. This is not your fault, and it’s a normal part of the aging process.
- Understand that professional care is often a necessary next step and that the staff you’ve chosen is qualified and prepared to provide expert care.
- Take time to acknowledge and appreciate that you are doing the best you can. Give yourself grace and patience throughout the process.
- Realistically assess your options including what is accessible, affordable, and an acceptable level of care.
- If your parents are being well cared for, then take a step back and let the facility do its job. Focus on your own health and wellbeing and allow the professionals to provide you with updates along the way.
How To Support Your Loved One in Skilled Nursing
Social connection and relationships with friends and family can greatly contribute to the recovery and health of skilled nursing patients. Staying in touch is one of the most important things you can do for your loved ones.
- Visit Regularly: Know the visitation schedule and plan regular visits when you are able to do so. Make your visits a routine that your loved one can plan on and look forward to.
- Listen: When you visit, be sure you listen more than you talk. Ask them about how things are going, pay attention to how they respond, and listen to their concerns.
- Connect with Technology: When you can’t visit in person, teach your loved one to use Facetime, Zoom, or other technology devices so they can stay connected.
- Bring your Positivity: Nursing homes can be a challenge sometimes, so bring a breath of fresh air and a positive attitude when you visit. Don’t spend your visits crying or being upset about the situation, provide optimism and smiles as much as possible.
- Bring Personal Mementos: This may be artwork, photography, a favorite blanket or personal item that can help patients to feel more comfortable in their space.
Myths About Skilled Nursing
If you haven’t been inside a skilled nursing facility for some time, you may be pleasantly surprised by what you find. Some of these common misconceptions keep individuals from reaping the benefits of care.
MYTH: It’s simply a hospital stay.
FACT: Nursing care is an addendum to your hospital stay. It is often used when hospital care is unnecessary – but the patient is also unequipped to return home.
MYTH: Nursing homes are only for the elderly.
FACT: Nursing homes can be used by anyone who needs assistance with a medical condition after being discharged from the hospital.
MYTH: Nursing homes are assisted living facilities.
FACT: Assisted living provides much less medical care than a nursing home. Skilled nursing is specifically designed for residents with complex medical needs.
MYTH: A nursing home is a sad lonely place.
FACT: A good nursing home can be a peaceful, relaxing, and healing environment where patients can thrive in a group setting. Families and friends can visit and join in activities anytime.
FAQs About Skilled Nursing Communities