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What is a Skilled Nursing Home?

A skilled nursing facility (SNF), or nursing home, is a licensed healthcare facility that provides rehabilitation services to senior citizens suffering from health complications and physical impairments.  Nursing homes are considered the highest level of senior care because they provide rehabilitation and medical services; whereas assisted living facilities and retirement homes are not licensed to provide "skilled" services.  Post-acute care, short-term rehabilitation, and long-term rehabilitation are the most common services provided by nursing homes.  All facilities are inspected and regulated by State Health Departments, and are required to provide 24/7 care. 

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Services Provided by Skilled Nursing Facilities

Staff Requirement at a Nursing Home

Skilled nursing facilities are required to have a Registered Nursing (RN) or Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) on staff at all times.  RNs have higher education than LPNs, and therefore typically oversee LPNs.  Most states require that RNs are on staff at least 8 hours per day, with LPNs on duty the rest of the time.  Often times, there will be Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) who assist RNs and LPNs with their daily tasks.  Nursing homes that specialize in physical therapy will have a Licensed Physical Therapist (PT) on staff.  Additionally, federal nursing home laws require that a dietician, either part time or full time, is also on staff.  Most commonly, one of the RNs or LPNs is a certified dietician. 

It is important to note, in order to be Medicare and Medicaid certified, skilled nursing facilities must adhere to specific laws and requirements.  These laws can often change from year to year, so it is important to research your current year's regulations.  Additionally, nursing homes do not have a required staff to patient ratio.  However, they are required to report their staffing hours to a state survey agency.  Upon review, the state survey agency decides if the skilled nursing facility is providing adequate care for their residents.   

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