Frequently Asked Questions

Skilled Nursing Facilities

FAQ

What exactly is skilled nursing?

Skilled nursing facilities are residences designed to house and assist individuals who have health conditions that require constant monitoring and availability of medical personnel. Skilled nursing facilities, also known as extended care services, provide 24-hour supervision, meals, activities, and health management support for their residents. Some senior living communities offer designated residences and specialized care for people with Alzheimer's or dementia.

What's the difference between skilled nursing and assisted living?

While skilled nursing facilities provide the highest level of care for seniors outside of a hospital, assisted living is best for seniors who need some help with bathing, dressing, toileting, grooming, and eating, but do not require 24-hour-a-day health care by doctors.

When is it time to consider a skilled nursing facility for your parents?
  • Both medical and personal care needs have become too great to handle at home or in another senior living community. This may be due to a recent hospitalization, or a chronic illness which has gradually been worsening.

  • Your parent needs a higher level of care temporarily after a hospitalization, but it's anticipated you will be able to return to home or another facility after a period of time.

What can mom or dad bring with them?

The skilled nursing facility will provide all  the furniture your elderly parent needs in their apartment. However, to make it feel like home, most skilled nursing centers encourage residents to bring personal items such as family photos, a familiar bedspread, and treasured knickknacks.

If possible, visit the skilled nursing facility before your parent moves in, so you can see the physical layout, sizes of the rooms, amount of closet space and any furniture or household items that are included. Obtain a list from the residence of suggested items to bring, as well as a floor plan.

What safety measures are in place?

One of several reasons people decide that elders with chronic health problems are better off in a skilled nursing facility than in their own homes is safety. The obvious point of safety in a skilled nursing facility has always been that there are trained professionals on-site in case of a fall, mediation reaction or other health issue. However, with advances in technology, nursing homes have advanced in safety measures over and above what they once provided.

For example, cameras in entrances and locked security systems keep the nursing staff informed about people who come and go. Good skilled nursing facilities want to encourage visitors and need to keep security as unobtrusive as possible in order to offer a home-like atmosphere, while still maintaining a safe environment for residents.

What happens if an elder has an emergency?

Staff and trained personal are available 24 hours a day to handle emergency situations. Skilled nursing facilities have arrangements with local hospitals and health care professionals for assistance with emergencies.

Are there social activities?

Yes. Skilled nursing residences have a full calendar of activities and social events for residents, including art classes, ice cream socials, bingo and game nights, prayer services, movie nights and guest speakers. In addition, many have beauty parlors, restaurant-style dining and other amenities that make the skilled nursing facility feel more like resort living.

How big are the rooms?

The size and layout vary from facility to facility. For example, some rooms may be private and others shared. Rooms may have their own bathroom, or they may be shared with others. The best way to determine for yourself if a skilled nursing residence is the best place for your parent is to schedule a personal visit to tour the facility. You might be surprised at how nice the accommodations really are.

Can couples live together?

In some skilled nursing facilities, yes, couples can live together. Assisted living facilities, skilled nursing and memory care residences offer options for couples to live in the same residence, while each receives the care they need, and pays only for the services they need.

Are pets allowed?

Check with the facility you are considering and ask them about pet policies. Some residences have pets on site that all of the residents can enjoy and interact with.

Is it true that once someone is admitted to a skilled nursing facility, they never leave?

No, that is not true. Some illnesses or injuries have progressed to the point where both ongoing medical and custodial care may be necessary through the end of life. However, many people encounter a skilled nursing facility for the first time after a sudden hospitalization, such as from a fall or stroke. After rehabilitative care, the person will be able to return home, or consider an independent living community or assisted living.

Why are there so many horror stories about senior living homes?

There are many misconceptions about today’s skilled nursing facilities.  Years ago they were sterile, hospital-like settings with narrow hallways and small shared rooms where people went to die. But modern skilled nursing facilities are just the opposite. Today's skilled nursing residences offer restaurant-style dining, a full calendar of social activities, a large, pleasant environment, private rooms – and the peace of mind that comes with knowing medical health is just a call-button away.

How much does skilled nursing cost?

The cost of skilled nursing varies depending on where you live, what level of care is provided and what type of accommodations you choose. Most seniors do not usually meet their long-term care needs from any one source. Instead a combination of support—private funds, long-term care insurance and government assistance is used to foot the bill.

Medicare covers post-hospital, short-term skilled care only—and may not cover the cost of ongoing nursing home care.

For low-income seniors who meet eligibility requirements, Medicaid might pay a portion of the cost. Please speak with our Social Services Director for more information regarding your specific financial needs.

General

FAQ

Visiting hours

We are open for visits 24 hours a day. If the doors are locked in the evenings, please ring the bell and wait for assistance.

How do I find out about activities provided for the resident?

We strive to create social programs and individualized activities to match the capabilities and needs of each resident. This also has a powerful impact in the healing process of those residents involved in some type of rehabilitation. Specific activities include: active resident councils, musical performances, current events update, reading the newspaper, singing exercises, fitness activities, stretching exercises, religious meetings, outside entertainment, games, trivia, history, and volunteer involvement. We also strongly encourage families to participate with the residents in various activities.

A monthly calendar is posted to keep residents informed of upcoming events such as birthday parties, movies, musical programs, outings, candlelight dinners, ice cream socials and other special events. We always welcome friends and family to visit and attend our special events.

What role does Social Services play?

Our social services team assists both residents and their families during transitional periods. They also provide essential information, manage requests and concerns, and help in care and discharge planning for each resident. They can arrange professional services for: Dental, Vision, Podiatry, Audiology, Power of Attorney, Dementia assessment, Psychosocial and Psychiatric Evaluation, and Individual therapy.

How is the laundry done? Can family members take laundry home?

Should you wish to have our facility wash the laundry please notify your Social Services representative upon  admission. Subsequently, if a family/care giver is going to take care of the laundry at home, please let them know your plans. This way, the staff can place a sign on the closet door notifying our housekeeping staff to leave the clothing for family pick up. We request that family provide a hamper for clothes and pick it up twice a week.

All personal clothing is washed in an industrial washing machine at a temperature of 180 degrees. Make sure your loved ones’ clothing is appropriate for washing and drying in these hot temperatures. Avoid bringing clothing that requires cold or warm water, special care, or is subject to damage and fading. All clothing must be labeled. Please label the clothing with the resident’s name, NOT the room number or initials. Mark clearly and in large letters on the inside neckline or waistband. All items must be marked including socks, shoes, and other personal items.

What articles of clothing should we bring?

We recommend approximately five changes of clothing and a pair of comfortable rubber-soled shoes. All articles should be washed, clearly labeled with resident’s name in permanent ink and entered into the residents’ personal inventory log in the medical chart. Other personal items should be marked or engraved for identification. We advise that residents do not keep valuable jewelry or large amounts of cash in the facility.

Is there a limit to the number of people who can visit at one time?

Although we do not have a formal policy stating visitation guidelines, we suggest using the common areas of the facility to meet with your loved one. If it is not possible to visit in one of the common areas, we suggest a limit of one to three people in a resident room at one time.

Is there any private space available to use?

You may speak to either our Social Services representative or Administrator to reserve space for any special events (birthday, holidays, meals) with notice.

Can children visit?

We encourage children to visit, however, we ask you to alert the charge nurse to anyone visiting the facility under the age 12.

Can we bring a family pet to the facility?

We would love for your family pet to come visit. Please remember to clean up after them and take the proper safety measures at all times. All pets are to be kept on a leash and should have all current vaccinations.

How often will a physician or health professional visit?

Physicians generally see residents upon admission and once every 30 days thereafter. However, our nursing professionals are in constant contact with all of the physicians that visit the facility. Some insurance companies require that physicians visit more often. Check with our nursing staff for further information.

Can I take my loved one home for a visit?

Residents may have a leave of absence only with a physician’s authorization, which can be arranged through the nursing staff. Upon arrival and departure, the resident or responsible party must sign the LOA (leave of absence) book, located at the nursing station.

Can my loved one receive mail?

Mail is delivered to residents personally on a daily basis except for weekends and holidays.

Is smoking permitted in the facility?

For the safety and welfare of all residents and staff, we are a non-smoking facility. There are designated smoking areas in the outdoor areas.

Where should I park when I come to visit?

There is ample parking in the parking lot with wheelchair access. Please observe all posted parking signs. Avoid parking in spaces specifically reserved for the handicapped, employees and physicians.

Can I bring in my loved one’s favorite food?

Consistent with the provision of special diets, always consult with the nursing staff before bringing food to residents. Any food kept in the resident room must be in properly sealed containers.

Is there someone who provides haircuts?

Yes, we have beauticians available. Please contact the Social Services Representative to set up an appointment.

Will my loved one’s room have a television?

Cable is provided to all residents free of charge. Most residents like to bring their own television or radio from home.

Will my loved one have telephone access?

All residents have access to a facility telephone. It is cordless and we can bring it to the rooms. Please speak with Social Services if you would like to arrange private service in your family member’s room. You will want to bring your favorite phone from home or residents may bring in a cell phone.

Will my loved one have internet access?

Please speak with Social Services about internet access.

How often will the Rehabilitation staff work with my loved one?

Your rehab director can inform you of the rehabilitation program designed for your loved one.

Will Medicare cover my stay in the facility?

Residents must have a Medicare card that reads “Hospital Insurance.” They must also be admitted to the facility with a physician order within 30 days of a three consecutive night hospital stay. Generally, during the first 20 days of care, Medicare will pay 100%. For days 21-100, a daily co-insurance co-pay is required. Medicare does not cover skilled nursing fees over 100 days.

Who do I talk to about food preferences? Are there alternate options to each day’s menu?

Upon admission our Registered Dietitian and/or Food Service Director will interview your loved one regarding special needs with regards to food preferences. Our own food service personnel prepare all the meals. Special care is taken to serve flavorful and appetizing foods. All menus are developed according to prescribed medical diets ordered by the physicians.

Should you wish for another food item on a particular day’s menu, please make the CNA aware of your request. This information will be passed on to the Food Service Director and they will try their best to accommodate needs.

Our Dietitian and Food Service Director also monitor nutritional status using monthly weights, daily intake records and relevant lab data. The results of these assessments are discussed at care conferences.

What do we do if we have personnel concerns?

Our primary concern is that your loved one feels comfortable here, and that their needs are being met. You should feel secure and at ease with our staff, particularly those providing direct care. If you have any concerns or praise for our staff, please feel free to contact our social services department. They will be able to address any apprehensions you may have regarding any particular staff members.

What is an Ombudsman?

An Ombudsman is an advocate for residents. They are a third party person NOT employed by the facility who comes by the facility periodically to monitor the activities of the facility. They are not able to tell the facility what to do, but are able to be a voice for a resident with a concern.

Who do I talk to about questions in regard to financials, billing, and/or admission paperwork?

We employ a full time Business Office Manager for all financial and billing concerns. Should you have any questions regarding these matters please make an appointment to see our Business Office Manager.

The Admissions Coordinator will guide you through the necessary forms required on admission and review the rules and regulations regarding Medicare, Medicaid and various insurances.

What is the difference between a CNA, LPN, and RN?

A Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) is a health professional who works under the supervision of Registered Nurses (RN’s) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN’s) to provide a wide variety of basic hands-on resident care. CNAs perform basic nursing functions such as personal care, taking vital signs, positioning residents, and ambulation.

An LPN provides basic bedside nursing care to residents under the direction of a physician or registered nurse. Duties within the scope of practice for an LPN typically include, but are not limited to, provision of basic hygienic and nursing care; measurement of vital signs; basic client assessment; documentation; performance of prescribed medical treatments; administration of prescribed medications; and, performance of non-medicated intravenous therapy and blood withdrawal.

An RN’s duties may include everything a CNA and LPN carry out, in addition to administering an IV, assessment of residents, skin care, and processing doctors’ orders. Furthermore, RN’s typically take on management positions such as the Director of Nursing, who is responsible for all nursing duties in the building.

What happens when my loved one’s stay at this facility is over? What options do we have?

Our goal is to rehabilitate your loved one back to an optimal level. For some residents, this allows them to go home and resume daily activities, while others may need a change in their living arrangements in order to accommodate their needs. For those that need to explore new living arrangements below are some of the options available to you:

Assisted Living

If you are ready to take the next step in your recovery, Assisted Living is a natural progression. Assisted Living centers (sometimes called Retirement Centers) provide care for seniors who are healthy enough to not require nursing or therapy, but are not quite sure if they are ready to transition home alone. Assisted Living centers cater to seniors who want a more “homelike” environment but with the added security of someone to check up on them 24 hours a day. Services typically include medication management, a wide array of activities, transportation to doctor’s appointments and outings, furnished rooms, healthy and balanced meals, and socialization. Assisted living residences are registered, licensed or certified at the state level, usually by the Department of Health.

Home

Prior to discharging home, make sure to think about the environment you will be returning to. How many steps do you have to climb? Do you have adaptive equipment to aid in bathing? Who will be providing you groceries and cooking? How will you get to doctors’ appointments or the pharmacy? Can you care for yourself independently?

Home Health Care Services

Local agencies and associations may offer services for the senior community still living in a home setting. These services can include friendly visiting, home-delivered meals, personal home care services, senior centers, transportation, financial counseling programs, etc. It is highly recommended that you thoroughly research the vast number of Home Health companies.

Senior Housing

Senior housing is apartment or condominium properties for persons age 55 years or older. Senior housing complexes do not generally provide meals or personal care services to residents but they may offer social activities, transportation or other services. Services will vary depending on size, location, necessity and cost.

Independent Living Communities

Independent living communities are usually large groups of senior housing units. Like senior housing, independent living communities are age- restricted and services are mostly limited, but they will vary from community to community.