Nurse handing senior man cup of coffee
Home / Blog / What Is Skilled Nursing Care?

What Is Skilled Nursing Care?

Throughout each phase of life, people’s needs change. During some phases, more help is needed, and during other phases, people are more independent and active. For seniors and their families, there are many changes and challenges as the years march on. One of the biggest challenges is to know what support is available in different situations and how to find the necessary help that meets each person’s individual needs.

There are many terms used when discussing senior care options that can help identify types of care, but these terms can also be a bit confusing. One of the most misunderstood terms involves the levels of care available for seniors and their families.

What is Skilled Nursing Care?

When exploring long-term care options, the term “skilled nursing care” is likely to come up. So, what is defined as skilled nursing care? Skilled nursing care refers to a senior’s need for treatment or medical care that must be provided by a health care professional. Here are some answers to the most common questions about skilled nursing care:

What are examples of skilled nursing care?

Skilled nursing care involves trained health care workers administering care, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Other examples of skilled nursing care services include:

  • Dispensing and monitoring IV medications
  • Tube feedings
  • Diabetic management
  • Blood transfusions
  • Support with the activities of daily living
  • Monitoring vital signs
  • Catheter, colostomy care and incontinence
  • Intramuscular injections
  • Post-operative wound care
  • Complex wound dressings
  • Pharmaceutical, laboratory and radiology services

When is skilled nursing needed?

It is common for seniors to seek skilled nursing care services in a few situations. The most frequent reason seniors move into a skilled nursing facility is to receive support and rehabilitation services after a surgery, stroke, illness or accident. Seniors with complex, chronic diseases, such as diabetes or cancer, or progressive conditions, such as Parkinson’s, or advanced diseases of cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease, may all seek support in skilled nursing care.

How long do seniors stay in skilled nursing care?

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, approximately 70% of Americans age 65 and older will require long-term care at some point in their lives. The average length of time seniors spend in long-term care is three years.

Who provides skilled nursing care?

Skilled nursing care is a unique type of senior care in that it must be administered by a health care professional. Professionals that may provide skilled nursing care include:

  • Medical directors
  • Registered nurses
  • Licensed practical nurses
  • Audiologists
  • Speech-language pathologists
  • Licensed vocational nurses

How does Medicare define skilled care?

Medicare-covered skilled nursing services include, but are not limited to:

  • Skilled nursing care
  • A semi-private room
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech-language pathology services
  • Medical social services
  • Medications
  • Dietary counseling
  • Medical equipment and supplies
  • Ambulance transportation

Medicare Part A (also known as hospital insurance) covers skilled nursing care on a short-term basis if certain conditions are met. The conditions for a senior to qualify for skilled nursing are:

  • Days left on their benefit period to use
  • A qualifying inpatient hospital stay
  • Doctor recommendation for daily skilled nursing care in a qualifying skilled nursing facility that is Medicare-certified
  • The skilled nursing services are for a medical condition that is either:
    • A hospital-related medical condition treated during their qualifying three-day inpatient hospital stay, not including the day the patient leaves the hospital, even if it wasn’t the reason the patient was admitted to the hospital
    • A condition that started while the patient was getting care in the skilled nursing facility for a hospital-related medical condition, such as contracting an infection that requires antibiotics while receiving skilled nursing care following a heart attack

Skilled Nursing Care Qualifications

Sometimes a move to skilled nursing care comes after the recommendation of a doctor. In other circumstances, a senior may seek out skilled nursing care after a family caregiver realizes they are not equipped to manage the level of care needed. Skilled nursing care is often utilized for short-term rehabilitation purposes, such as recovering from a cardiac episode, a fall or surgery, in order to help a patient to be able to function more independently. Skilled nursing care can also help seniors learn to take care of their own health needs and can even help to slow the physical decline attributed to some chronic diseases.

Here are some guidelines on the nonmedical, critical medical and cognitive reasons why doctors may refer a senior for skilled nursing care:

  • Begins to exhibit poor hygiene and/or an unkempt appearance
  • Shows obvious weight loss, indicating they may not be eating or drinking enough
  • Misses or stops taking medications
  • Loses interest in socializing
  • Exhibits unsteadiness walking
  • Demonstrates lack of good housekeeping, paying bills, etc.
  • Cardiac failure
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Diabetes
  • Fall-related injury
  • Hip or bone fracture
  • Orthopedic surgery
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Stroke
  • Asking the same questions over and over
  • Getting lost in familiar places
  • Being unable to follow instructions
  • Being confused about location, time and well-known people

Holly Hill Nursing & Rehabilitation

Holly Hill Nursing & Rehabilitation Center provides rehabilitation, memory care, respite services and skilled nursing care designed to support and nurture each resident’s emotional, spiritual, mental and physical wellness. We are committed to creating a unique experience for each resident and supporting their family as they work toward their goals.

With comfortable accommodations, friendly faces, customized care plans and the professionalism of registered nurses, other professionals and support staff – Holly Hill offers skilled nursing care as it should be:

  • Clinical staff on-site 24 hours per day
  • Advanced wound care program
  • Nutritional management and tube feeding
  • Nutritious breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks prepared daily
  • IV therapy
  • Tracheostomy care
  • Infectious disease care
  • Pain management
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Respiratory management program including COPD, aerosolized medication, BiPAP and CPAP
  • Restorative nursing

Ready to learn more about Holly Hill? Contact us or call us today at 337-625-5843 to schedule a tour and get answers to your questions.