Skilled Nursing vs Long-Term Care: What’s the Difference?

When you or a loved one suddenly requires a different or new type of healthcare, the amount of terms and options can be overwhelming. Many people get confused when they hear about skilled nursing and long-term care. While they share similarities, these two types of care cater to different needs and have distinct purposes. Here’s what you need to know to understand the differences between skilled nursing and long-term care.

What Is Skilled Nursing Care?

Skilled nursing is medical care licensed professionals provide in a dedicated facility or rehabilitation center. People who are recovering from an injury, illness, or medical event such as a stroke may require skilled nursing care to help with the following:

  • Wound care
  • Injections and IVs
  • Medication management
  • Physical therapy
  • Heart monitor

Skilled nursing is usually temporary, with most patients returning to independent living. However, some people may require this level of care for a long time.

Skilled Nursing vs Long Term Care. Woman helps older woman with crutches.

What Is Long-Term Care?

People living with cognitive disorders, mobility issues, and neurological conditions often need 24/7 assistance at a facility or in their homes. Long-term caregivers support every aspect of a person’s daily routine, from bathing and dressing to eating and going to the bathroom. Long-term care focuses on safety, comfort, and quality of life.

What Are the Differences Between Skilled Nursing and Long-Term Care?

Skilled nursing and long-term care have much in common, including the fact that you or your loved one will receive individual attention from licensed professionals. However, it’s important to understand the differences to make an informed decision regarding your health and well-being.

One of the key distinctions between these two types of care is that long-term care does not focus on specialized medical procedures such as monitoring an IV or dressing a wound. Patients who need rehabilitative procedures will require skilled nursing care. It is also generally more expensive but may be covered by some insurance programs, while long-term care is often a private pay level of healthcare.

Another big difference is the duration of each type of care. Skilled nursing is a short-term solution that helps patients return to assisted or independent living. People who need support with daily activities for an indefinite amount of time require long-term care.

How Do You Choose the Right Type of Care?

You’ll know what care you or your loved one needs based on the medical situation. For rehabilitative care, such as recovering from a stroke or other traumatic brain injury, you will want to explore skilled nursing facilities. Other things to take into consideration are: 

  • Advice from healthcare providers
  • Lifestyle preferences
  • Financial resources
  • Functional abilities

Not every facility provides skilled nursing care, so you or your loved one may need to transition into and out of a dedicated healthcare setting to receive acute rehabilitative care.

A Person-Centered Approach

Choosing a comfortable and home-like setting for skilled nursing or long-term care can make your or your loved one’s experience positive. At Elder Care Alliance, we take a person-centered approach to care. Schedule a visit to Mercy Retirement and Care Center to learn more about our options for skilled nursing and long-term care.

For help or more information contact us or schedule a visit at a location today.