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What Is SNF or Skilled Nursing Facility?

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Last Updated on March 29, 2022 by ashley.davis

What Is A Skilled Nursing Facility?

Elders often need intensive care, especially if they’ve been ill or have suffered an injury. While there’s no need for a long-term hospital stay, they might still need daily care to recover. The services of a skilled nursing facility will help you through these challenging times. 

Skilled Nursing Facility is the full form of SNF medical abbreviation. It’s a rehabilitation center where hospital patients are transferred after leaving the hospital. Seniors usually stay at an SNF for up to 100 days, and licensed medical professionals take care of them while they are there.

skilled nursing
skilled nursing

SNF Meaning: What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

A Skilled Nursing Facility is a short-term nursing care center you’ll move to if you need continuing care once you’re discharged from a hospital. SNFs provide senior patients with 24/7 assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) and healthcare if there isn’t anybody to assist at home. 

Trained medical professionals provide in-patient rehabilitation care. Some of these are: 

  • Registered nurses (RNs) 
  • Licensed practicing nurses (LPNs) 
  • Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) 
  • Speech pathologists 
  • Audiologists 
  • Occupational therapists 
  • Physical therapists 

Your loved one can only join an SNF if a medical doctor orders it at the hospital. But, SNFs must adhere to federal regulations to ensure a safe environment for the elders. 

A Skilled Nursing Facility is a short-term nursing care center for those who need continuing care once discharged from the hospital.

What Are Examples of Skilled Nursing Care?

Patients who require intensive skilled medical care are best-suited for skilled nursing facilities. Patients are cared for by competent nurses and doctors who specialize in senior care. They specialize on a variety of services, including Alzheimer’s care and short-term rehabilitation. The following is a list of short- and long-term care services provided by skilled nursing facilities:

  • Recovery from strokes: this skilled nursing care includes rehabilitation, speech functions, and more.
  • Regular wound care: this area involves treating wounds and administering possibility of infections.
  • ADL care: assistance with daily activities like bathing, eating, and dressing. It is also known as Custodial Care.
  • Regular rehabilitation care: speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy care for patients after a serious operation.
  • Severe medical condition care: nursing care provided for patients with acute illness that can threaten his or her life.
  • Parkinson’s care: specific care for Parkinson’s diseases (in specific facilities).

Who Should Consider Skilled Nursing Facility?

Nursing care facilities play an important role in the senior care industry. But it can be a difficult decision for you or your loved one to move to a skilled nursing facility. There are certain circumstances that can help you ease into the decision. You should consider skilled nursing facility if you have any of the following condition:

  • You are at a high risk of slipping and falling every now and then. Because of risk of falling, you will end up needing 24/7 medical care. In such a situation, a nursing home is the best option.
  • If you need long-term medical care assessment, your best choice is to shift to a skilled nursing facility. Short-term medical care can be provided by family members who act as caregivers. But long-term medical care requires skilled and professional handling.
  • Ask yourself- will your family be able to care for you 24/7? When you need constant medical supervision, it is quite impossible for a family member to care for you. There will remain many gaps in their care plans. As a result, the best option is to opt for skilled nursing facility.
The image shows an SNF doctor holding a patient's hand.

What Requirements Do Skilled Nursing Facilities Need to Maintain?

Skilled nursing facilities must stick to federal regulations. Before nursing care starts, assessing your loved one’s needs and developing a care plan is done. This process is also the backbone of record-keeping for each patient. 

Regulations also demand that each medical center have enough staff to fulfill all the older adult’s needs. On top of that, the post-acute centers must ensure that: 

  • Each patient is hydrated 
  • Nutrition is suited for your loved one
  • Medical equipment is functioning and available at all times
  • Adequate supervision of patients take place 

Medicare covers admission under the following terms:

  • You have Medicare Part A (hospital insurance) with days left on your benefit period. The benefit period starts the day you’re admitted to a hospital or a Skilled Nursing facility. It ends 60 days after you’re discharged. 
  • You have to qualify by having a 3-night stay at a hospital. 
  • Your doctor must believe that you need skilled nursing care daily. 
  • Skilled nurses and therapists must provide the care. The care must relate to the condition treated during your hospital stay. 
  • The medical center is certified by Medicare. It needs to meet and maintain the criteria according to the Medicare certification. 
An SNF nurse reading a book to a senior woman patient.

What skilled nursing services does Medicare cover?

You’re not crazy if you expect Medicare will cover skilled nursing care costs. However, coverage limits can be perplexing, and you must complete specific standards prior to your stay.
In a nutshell, Medicare will cover short-term stays in skilled nursing facilities in certain circumstances. If you require continuous or long-term care in a skilled nursing facility, you will be required to pay for these services out of pocket or via other programs.

The coverage provided by Medicare for skilled nursing facilities is divided into benefit areas. A benefit phase begins when you are admitted to a hospital or skilled care facility as a patient.

Various amounts are provided over the course of the benefit period. When 60 days have passed without the need for hospital or skilled nursing care, the benefit period expires. If you return to the hospital after the 60-day period has expired, a new benefit period will begin.

Below is a complete list of items that Medicare covers for skilled nursing services:

  • A semi-private room shared with others
  • Meals and nutritional counseling
  • Skilled nursing care
  • Rehabilitation services – physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, respiratory therapy
  • Medication & medical supplies
  • Medical social services
  • Swing bed services
  • Ambulance transportation

Cost of Skilled Nursing Facility

A skilled nursing facility always includes a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) on-site for 24/7. There are other amenities like assistants, registered nurses, and patient beds. All these together increases the skilled nursing facility costs.

On average, SNF can cost $275 per day. In a nursing facility, seniors can find semi-private and private rooms. Private rooms are costlier with $290 per day expenses. On the other hand, semi-private rooms can cost $255 per day on average.

If you want monthly estimations, you will need to understand that that might be your most common plan. Most seniors need to stay long term in a skilled nursing facility. The monthly costs for nursing care can range between $7,650 to $8.700 each month.

Finally, the average yearly cost can reach as much as $125,000 by 2030. Currently the costs are $105, 850 yearly for the private rooms and $93,075 each year for the semi-private rooms.

What’s the Difference Between a Skilled Nursing Facility and a Nursing Home? 

Skilled nursing facilities typically provide short-term care, while Nursing Homes provide long-term stays. While both facilities offer help with ADLs and healthcare, SNFs provide medical care outside of the hospital before you finally go home. 

1. You can access skilled nursing care at home, but an SNF is a dedicated medical center where licensed professionals provide nursing care. 

2. An SNF is not a Nursing Home because a patient’s stay is only temporary. Yet, the terms Nursing Home and skilled nursing facility are used interchangeably. 

3. SNFs care for patients under a doctor’s supervision. So, it’s the same kind of care you’d get in a hospital. Yet, SNFs provide transitional care where the aim is for you to get well enough to go back home. 

4. A Nursing Home provides similar care levels, but an RN supervises nurses and nurse aides. 

5: The elders often live in a Nursing Home if they can’t care for themself because of medical, behavioral, functional, or cognitive issues. So, Nursing Homes provide long-term care for seniors who are suffering from severe illnesses. 

3 Critical Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right Elder-Care Medical Facility

  • Recent medical issues:
    Let’s say your loved one had a stroke recently; you might need this type of sanctuary. While rehabilitation can happen at home, having on-site medical staff speeds up recovery. 
  • Regular daily care:  
    Some conditions need a longer-term approach. Having 24/7 access to professionals often speeds up the recovery process. The nurses will ensure medication is on time and check vital signs. Usually, home recoveries take longer if there are gaps between nursing visits. 
  • Medicare’s 100-day rule:
    Medicare pays for up-to-100-days stays. While the fund pays the full amount up to the first 20 days, it only pays a part of the bill from day 21. You or your loved one will have to pay the shortfall.


The SNF medical abbreviation means skilled nursing facility. While an SNF is a post-acute center that provides short-term nursing care, a nursing home permanently takes care of seniors in need. Since these medical centers are regulated, rest assured that the facility will take care of the seniors’ needs. 

Learn about other Senior Living options here.


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