What is the Difference Between Skilled Nursing and Long-Term Care?

At first glance, skilled nursing and long-term care seem similar. Sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. Both are types of care for older adults and provide essential services in a professional and caring manner. In some cases, the same community offers skilled nursing care and long-term care; the services that skilled nursing and long-term care provide often overlap too.

Residents of continuing care retirement communities value having contractual access to both skilled nursing and long-term care.

What is Skilled Nursing?

Skilled nursing is usually short-term acute care. They typically focus on rehabilitative care, offered 24 hours a day by a team of licensed medical professionals, including doctors, nurses and specialized therapists. Doctors oversee the care of each patient.

While skilled nursing is usually short-term, some need this level of care for an extended period to recover from an illness or surgery. They may need rehabilitation, require medical treatment that cannot be done at home or may be recovering from a stroke or other brain injury.

Skilled Nursing Services

  • Wound and post-surgical care
  • Injected medications
  • Intravenous (IV) therapy
  • Physical, occupational and speech therapy
  • Regular monitoring of vital signs or blood sugar
  • Use of medical equipment

In some cases, skilled nursing transitions between a hospital and a more permanent residence, such as assisted living or private independent living. There is a chance skilled nursing could be covered by medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. If it is, coverage will likely vary between plans.

What is Long-Term Care?

Long-Term Care (or LTC policy) is a private pay level of care in an assisted living or memory care environment needed for those who have physical care needs that exceed the care available with in-home services.

Long-term care residents may need the help of several caregivers to aid in the activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, grooming, moving from the bed to a chair or taking oral medications at the right time. Long-term care residents also have access to licensed medical care.

Long-term care is typically part of skilled nursing communities, making these residences ideal for those who need 24-hour hands-on care and supervision but do not need the specialized care offered in a skilled care environment.

Who Might Need Long-Term Care?

  • Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia and other cognitive disorders
  • A terminal condition
  • Permanent disabilities
  • Chronic or severe pain
  • Neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease
  • Chronic conditions that limit mobility and ability to live independently

While long-term care does not provide the same level of medical care as offered in a skilled nursing environment, long-term care frequently offers access to medical practitioners should a resident need them.

Long-term care is more of a permanent residence than is skilled nursing, so insurance, Medicare or Medicaid may not cover the costs. Coverage varies according to specific plans.

Skilled Nursing vs. Long-Term Care

If skilled nursing or long-term care is needed for your family member, finding a community can seem like a difficult decision. In many cases, the best place to start is to determine the ultimate goal of care. If the aim is to provide rehabilitation to recover from an illness or injury and return to independent living, you will look to a skilled nursing community. On the other hand, if the goal is to provide ongoing care for a chronic condition, a community that also offers long-term care may be the best option.

Whether you are looking at a skilled nursing or long-term care community, consider the staff’s credentials and experience in providing care for people with similar conditions. The team should be friendly and respectful and individuals should have easy access to the specialists and therapists they may need.

The care environment and ambiance are necessary too. Some skilled nursing and long-term care communities offer luxury amenities, appealing surroundings and manicured grounds, regular housekeeping, and even exercise, education and socializing opportunities.

Continuing Care Retirement Community in Oklahoma

When you’re at Concordia, you’re at home. Concordia is so much more than a place to live or receive care. Our team helps residents stay strong, healthy and independent and our stimulating programming and lifelong learning programs offer something for everyone. At Concordia, we combine exceptional care, personal fulfillment and maintenance-free living to provide a holistic wellness experience.

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