Skilled nursing facilities provide care for patients who no longer need hospital care after a serious illness or injury, but who aren't yet strong enough to return home. Such facilities are regulated by both the state and federal governments, and provide the highest level of medical care outside of a hospital.
A patient in a skilled nursing facility is under the care of a medical doctor. Registered nurses give medication, perform wound care and monitor medical conditions. Physical, occupational and speech therapists assist with the rehabilitation process. Nursing assistants provide help with activities of daily living, including bathing, toileting and dressing. Whenever possible, the goal for a patient in a skilled facility is to return home.
Skilled nursing facilities are commonly referred to as nursing homes, but there are differences between the two. While many, if not most, nursing homes are regulated by the state and federal government, they are not required to be. Nursing care provided by RNs may be more limited in a nursing home compared to a skilled facility. Rehabilitation services provided by physical, occupational and speech therapists may also be limited. Nursing homes may only take on patients with mild to moderate medical needs, in contrast to a skilled facility, which is better able to handle complex conditions.