Skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation centers support continued recovery through nursing care and therapy provided by registered nurses, certified nursing assistants, physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists. Where the focus in a hospital is to treat and stabilize acute care needs, skilled nursing and rehabilitation aid in your recovery phase by providing wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy, physical therapy and continual monitoring of symptoms and vital signs.
If hospital providers think you or someone you know will benefit from care services at a skilled nursing facility, they will develop a plan for your recovery and provide guidance to the facility to work with you to carry out that plan.
Most stays at skilled nursing facilities are temporary but the duration is different for everyone and determined by such factors as physical condition, the ability to care for yourself and social support at home.
Skilled nursing facilities differ from hospitals in that:
- You may share a room with another patient.
- Beds are smaller than those in hospitals.
- Meals often are served in a dining room.
- Staffing ratios are different: There are fewer registered nurses and more certified nurse assistants, and nurses are responsible for more patients than they are in a hospital setting.
- Most facilities use off-site pharmacies, laboratories and radiology services.
- There are rooms for socializing as well as planned activities for patients to enjoy.
When your hospital provider thinks you are ready for this next care environment, the hospital’s social work staff will assist in selecting a skilled nursing facility. There are many facilities to choose from and numerous considerations to take into account. It’s a good idea to visit the facility first and bring a checklist like this one (https://www.medicare.gov/files/nursing-home-checklist.pdf ) to help evaluate the quality of a nursing home. Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries may obtain health services from any institution that accepts Medicare and/or Medicaid; however, there may be limitations due to bed availability, specific medical specialty services and your insurance coverage.
Factors to consider include:
- The quality of care and rehabilitation.
- Specialized medical care and staff.
- Private versus shared room.
- Choice of doctor.
- Distance to family or friends to allow for visits.
- Distance to follow-up appointments.
While patients and families often look to their hospital care team to help choose a facility or agency, they are free to select any facility they wish. The facilities on the list below have been selected by a team of experts from UW Medicine and are included in our UW Medicine Post-Acute Care Network. They have access to UW Medicine electronic medical records and are dedicated to providing better patient care, higher patient satisfaction and greater coordination with your hospital and physician. Many sites also have UW physicians and nurse practitioners on site. They will coordinate your transition to the skilled nursing facility, are available overnight and on weekends for urgent issues, coordinate specialty appointments, and provide medical care that is tailored to each patient’s needs and condition(s).
- Assisted living communities
- Subsidized senior housing
- Continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)
- Home and community- based services including adult day services, adult day healthcare, meal programs and senior centers
- Programs of All inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE): pace4you.org
- Residential care communities