Making decisions about healthcare for yourself or your loved one is never as simple as researching providers online. It’s also more than touring a local nursing home and reserving a room. While some facilities might feel like they have a hotel environment—front desk and lobby included—there is a world of activity going on inside that determines which one is ideal for your situation.

It’s about the type of care.

In this article, we’re sharing the key differences between assisted living and skilled nursing. Take a minute and explore these two types of care. Our goal here is to make sure you have enough information about each to take the next step in the decision-making process.

What Is Skilled Nursing?

All nursing care requires skills, whether it’s knowing how to make a person more comfortable, taking vital signs, or watching for changes in a patient’s physical and emotional condition. The term skilled nursing relates to the highest level of care. Only licensed healthcare professionals can provide skilled nursing care.

A few examples of skilled nursing care include:

  • IV therapy
  • Injections
  • Catheter care
  • Wound care

You may need skilled nursing care for a short time if you’re going through rehabilitation from an illness or injury. A doctor may order skilled nursing care for a longer duration if you or your loved one needs help managing a chronic health condition. It’s comforting to know you’ll be in good hands over the long term.

Tip: Skilled nursing care must be ordered by a doctor. Medicare, Medicaid, the VA, and all private health insurance providers require a doctor’s order before approving payment.


How Does Assisted Living Work?

Independence is a key feature of assisted living care. Whether it takes place at your home or in an assisted living community, this type of care is designed to help with all the activities associated with daily living.

The word assist means just that—assistance. Healthcare professionals who provide assisted living are focus on promoting independence. They don’t take over daily life for you. Rather, they create an environment where you take care of yourself as much as possible. Perhaps a person needs extra help dressing or keeping their living space tidy. In an assisted living situation, that help will be there without being intrusive. Assisted living, whether in a nursing home or a person’s own home, typically doesn’t include skilled nursing care.

The Best of Both Worlds

What if you could receive assisted and skilled nursing care in one location? Every senior wants to stay as independent as possible, participate in their community, and ensure medical needs are met.


Skilled nursing facilities offer that! 

Folks living in the Springfield area can take advantage of a highly skilled team of healthcare providers while living in a home-away-from-home environment. A skilled nursing environment makes just about every service a person needs available on-site, including:

That hotel environment we mentioned at the beginning of this article? You’ll often find it when you explore a short-term nursing facility like The Bridge Care Suites in Springfield, Illinois.


Which Facility Is Best for You?

It’s not uncommon for a person to have strong feelings about the type of care they prefer. Most of us would rather go to the doctor, get the diagnosis, and go home.

Sometimes an injury or an illness means we have to make adjustments in our daily living so that we can recover and go back to the things we enjoy most. Spending time in a skilled nursing facility ensures a person has 24-hour access to the nursing care they need. The goal of skilled nursing staff is to be there for patients for the short term. If you visit both types of facilities, you’ll notice a few subtle differences. We’ll share those next.


Life in a Skilled Nursing Facility

As we mentioned above, most people need skilled nursing care for more serious, ongoing health conditions. In many cases, a condition is too severe to allow living at home where there isn’t continuous monitoring and access to not only routine but emergency care.

A private short-term care facility, on the surface, resembles an assisted living community. Patients live in private or semi-private rooms with many of the amenities they have at home.

Subtle differences you’ll notice in a skilled nursing facility is that patients sleep in hospital beds (although they could pass as a regular bed). There are usually centralized nursing stations but they are not like what you find in hospitals. Patients can, if they’re mobile, enjoy community areas where they dine and socialize.

Skilled nursing care takes place in a facility where discharge is part of the care plan. Whether a patient returns home or to an assisted living facility, the focus of their time in skilled nursing care is rehabilitation. The goal is for the patient to go home!


Living in an Assisted Living Environment

Assisted living facilities to look more like apartment or condo communities. Patients can prepare meals in their own space or join their friends in a community dining area. While there are healthcare providers who administer limited care, you likely won’t have access to skilled services like wound and catheter care.

Another difference between the two is the goals set for residents. In an assisted living environment, the goal is independence, but there aren’t plans to send the resident home. They are home.


But I’m the Caretaker Not the Patient

If you’re a caretaker for an elderly loved one, you know the challenges associated with caregiving. You’re likely responsible for at least some of the care, including things like medication compliance and helping with the activities of daily living.

What happens when you need a reprieve? Some skilled nursing facilities offer respite care.

Your loved one can stay in the facility and receive the level of care they need. You can take a much-needed break and when their stay is over, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to help your loved one continue to take on the world.

We hope this article answered your initial questions about assisted living and skilled nursing care. If you or your loved one needs to transition to a skilled nursing facility, we hope you’ll consider us like family.

Contact our team at the Bridge Care Suites. We’d love to show you around and help you get settled.