Senior Living
Skilled Nursing Facility vs Nursing Home

Skilled Nursing Facility vs Nursing Home

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skilled nursing facility vs nursing home


Skilled Nursing Facilities vs Nursing Homes are often considered the same and used interchangeably. While this is usually harmless, it is misleading when in need of professional health care for a loved one or yourself.

Nursing Home is a senior living option that provides non-medical care and specializes in nursing and personal care. In contrast, Skilled Nursing is a type of care found in some nursing homes and has staff with a higher level of training, such as therapists and registered nurses. 

To make things clearer, we’ve created an in-depth article discussing the differences between Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) and Nursing Homes and the factors you need to consider when choosing between the two. Both fall under the long-term care umbrella but vary in goals and the level of care they provide.

What Is a Nursing Home?

skilled nursing facility vs nursing home

Nursing homes are facilities that provide non-medical care to residents. They are where people go when they no longer need hospital care but can not be cared for at home either. They provide the highest level of care outside of hospitals for seniors. 

The nursing home staff consists of registered nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and certified nursing assistants (CNAs). And are always available to provide 24-hour medical attention to the residents.

They provide personal care and nursing care to residents, helping them with ADLs and IADLs such as bathing, eating, cooking, and hygiene. Most Nursing Homes go a step further to provide recreational activities and social activities to stimulate and entertain residents’ minds. The facilities serve as long-term care or end-of-life facilities for a majority of the residents. 

As a permanent healthcare facility, NHF staff will often go out of their way to make residents comfortable and feel at home. Newer Nursing Homes are built with a bed-and-breakfast-like interior for this purpose, with their residents being encouraged to bring their furniture to add their personal touch and make it their own. 

When patients recover, they are discharged to go back to the community or to another type of senior living facility i.e. Assisted Living Programs. 

What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

skilled nursing facility vs nursing home

Skilled nursing facilities are a lot like Nursing Homes but relatively shorter in the length of care. But, they still fall under the long-term care category. 

Patients in SNFs have access to staff who have undergone more in-depth training than most staff members in Nursing Homes. Trained registered nurses provide care under the supervision of a doctor. They have the same level of care as hospitals. 

In addition to registered nurses, their staff includes physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, and audiologists. There are staff members who can prescribe medication and use specialized equipment. 

In contrast to the old age bias of Nursing Homes, Skilled Nursing facilities tend to cater to people of all ages and are much more rehabilitative in their healthcare approach.

They provide transitional care. Patients go from hospitals to SNFs to continue recovery and get well enough to go home. Thus, only individuals that have the potential to recover their ability to function independently after a limited period of care are admitted.

In addition to therapy, the facilities offer specialized care for people living with dementia or patients with other memory or cognitive disorders. 

The facilities always have at least one licensed professional, may it be a doctor, a nurse, or a therapist, available to the patients 24-hours a day. 

Like in nursing homes, access to assistance with daily living activities such as bathing, walking, hygiene, and dressing, is also part of their services. 

Where Can You Get Skilled Nursing Care? 

Skilled Nursing Care can be found in various care facilities such as hospital wings and even in Nursing Homes. If you are at a loss with where to start looking, Medicare.gov provides a helpful list on their website.

Is Skilled Nursing a Nursing Home?

No. Skilled Nursing is a type of senior care, and a Nursing Home is a senior living facility i.e., assisted living or independent living. But, Skilled Nursing can also be found in some Nursing Homes.

How Long Can You Stay in a Skilled Nursing Facility?

You can stay as long as you can pay. If you are covered by Medicare, you can stay up to 100 days. After which, you will need to pay out of pocket. 

Services Provided in Nursing Home vs Skilled Nursing Facility 

The services provided in a nursing home and a skilled nursing facility can vary greatly. Here are the differences in services provided by skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes: 

Nursing Home Skilled Nursing Facility 
Provides long-term careProvides short-term care  
Provides more basic care Provides more intensive medical care 
Examples: bathing, eating, personal hygiene, medication management, insulin injections, etc. Examples: rehabilitation from acute illness, injury, wound care, speech therapy, etc. 
Nursing Home vs Skilled Nursing Facility

Choosing between Skilled Nursing Homes vs Nursing Homes

skilled nursing facility vs nursing home

So when choosing between a Skilled Nursing Facility and a Nursing Home, it comes down to your goals. Are your goals leaning towards rehabilitation or comfort? Does your loved one have the potential to recover? Are they strong enough to withstand therapy? 

The rule of thumb is if you can withstand 3 hours of high-intensity therapy, you can survive the whole course.

If you need long-term care due to a debilitating illness and old age and if you are very weak and frail, a Nursing Home would probably be best. 

Top 3 Points

1. Nursing homes are long-term care facilities that provide non-medical care to patients who no longer need hospital care but can not be cared for at home either.

2. Skilled nursing facilities are a lot like Nursing Homes but relatively shorter in the length of care. Patients go from hospitals to SNFs to continue recovery and get well enough to go home.

3. Skilled Nursing is a type of senior care, while a Nursing Home is a senior living facility.


When making the decision of whether to place a loved one in a nursing home or a skilled nursing facility, it is important to understand the difference between the two types of care. Nursing homes provide 24-hour supervision and care, while skilled nursing facilities offer more specialized services, such as rehabilitation therapy. 

Check what exactly is provided in each facility and ask a lot of questions. Ask yourself what level of care you need between skilled nursing facilities vs nursing homes. Also, consult your doctor. Facilities have become increasingly integrated with many Nursing Homes offering Skilled Nursing. And most Skilled Nursing Facilities are now offering Nursing Home services.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a nursing home a skilled nursing facility? 

A nursing home is not a skilled nursing facility. A nursing home is a long-term care facility that provides basic services, such as room and board, nursing care, and social services. Skilled nursing facilities provide more specialized care, such as rehabilitation services. 

What are examples of skilled nursing care? 

Examples of skilled nursing care include but are not limited to: wound care, catheter care, occupational therapy, speech therapy, medication management, intravenous therapy, and administering injections. 

Are assisted living facilities considered nursing homes? 

In general, assisted living facilities are not considered nursing homes. Assisted living mainly provides help with activities of daily living, while nursing homes provide round-the-clock supervision and medical care. However, there are some assisted living facilities that provide nursing home-level care. 

Do assisted living facilities have nurses? 

Yes, assisted living facilities have nurses. Nurses are responsible for providing basic medical care to residents, as well as monitoring their health and wellbeing. 

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