SNF - Skilled Nursing Facility - Definition

What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

A skilled nursing facility is a location dedicated to the care of individuals in a residential facility, usually there on a long-term basis. These facilities specialize in the 24-hour care and observation of individuals whose needs are usually critical enough where they need constant watching, but not serious enough where hospitalization is required.

A skilled nursing facility may often be called a nursing home by some people. They are often called that because nurses, of varying degrees and certifications, take on the bulk of the patient care work. They carry out this care by working closely with a patient's team of personal doctors, following those physicians’ directions and holding consultations as necessary. Doctors also make visits, in some cases, to skilled nursing facilities to provide check-up examinations.

Traditionally, a skilled nursing facility has been used for care of the elderly, leading to the somewhat unflattering term "old folks home." However, since that time, many skilled nursing facilities have added rehabilitation to their list of services. An individual may check into a skilled nursing facility, for example, to work on physical therapy after a surgery like a hip or knee replacement.

Often, these types of surgery limit mobility and make it problematic, especially for someone who lives alone. Being at a skilled nursing facility gives these individuals a chance to have round the clock care and also receive physical therapy services in the same location.

In general, a skilled nursing facility is an option for those who can no longer carry out the functions of daily lives, either on a temporary or permanent basis. Staff at a skilled nursing facility will help the individual with a number of everyday tasks, including bathing, eating, grooming and toileting.

In the United States, time spent at a skilled nursing facility can be expensive and not always covered by health insurance. This has led many individuals to consider getting a supplement to their normal health insurance coverage that will specifically cover nursing home care. A study reported by New York Life, an American insurance company, noted the average cost of a private room at a skilled nursing facility in the United States has increase to $204 US Dollars (USD) per day. The average price of a shared room is $180 USD per day. Prices were highest in the state of Alaska, where a private room costs more than $350 USD per day.

Room arrangements in a skilled nursing facility are similar to those in hospitals. They can be either private or shared. Similarly, bathrooms can be either private or shared.

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