When it comes to your care, you want to make sure you pick a facility that meets all your needs. That is why searching for the right living option for you or an aging loved one is important and it can take some research. There are many differences between skilled nursing facilities and assisted living communities. Both options will provide different medical assistance and care. In this blog, we outline 15 key differences between skilled nursing facilities and senior living communities to help you during your decision process.
When it comes to making a decision about skilled nursing or assisted living for yourself or a loved one, it can be difficult to determine which type of care is best. Both skilled nursing and assisted living have their own unique benefits and drawbacks. We will outline 15 key differences between skilled nursing and assisted living below to help you make the best decision for yourself or your loved one.
What is an Assisted Living Community?
An assisted living community offers housing to seniors who need help with daily care such as medication management, cooking, and grooming. Assisted living facilities range in size from 25 residents to 120 or more. This type of senior housing is great for healthy seniors who just need some help around the house, as well as those with cognitive issues such as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Senior living communities foster a social atmosphere and offers residents plenty of opportunities for activities and engagement. Even though residents live in their own apartments, they make plenty of friends and their calendars are filled with fun activities such as BINGO and movie nights.
What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?
Skilled nursing facilities are for seniors who are in need of more intensive medical care. Eden Senior Care facilities for example, specialize in both short-term rehabilitation and long-term care and offer 24/7 nursing care. Some services you may find at skilled nursing facilities include: orthopedic rehabilitation, post-surgical care, cardiac care, pulmonary & respiratory care, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Skilled nursing facilities are made up of healthcare professionals such as cardiologists and registered nurses. Additionally, skilled nursing facilities offer dietary planning, housekeeping, and transportation so you can focus solely on your recovery.
Choosing Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing
To decide between assisted living and skilled nursing, you need to determine how much assistance your loved one needs. If your loved one requires around-the-clock nursing care, skilled nursing would be the best option. If your loved one needs assistance with basic activities of daily living such as bathing and dressing, assisted living may be a better fit.
Compare Assisted Living Communities Skilled Nursing Facilities
|Assisted Living Community||Skilled Nursing Facility|
|Accommodations / Setting||Assisted living communities are designed to be residential environments with apartments or small homes. While the focus is on independence for seniors, there is still assistance available for daily activities.||Skilled nursing facilities are a hospital-like medical rehabilitation setting with nurses and doctors available 24/7.|
|Meals & Snacks||Assisted living communities offer 3 meals per day in addition to snacks and drinks.||Skilled nursing facilities offer 3 meals per day in addition to snacks and drinks.|
|Housekeeping Services||There is optional light housekeeping available in assisted living communities that includes basic cleaning like dusting, mopping, bathrooms and flooring.||Because skilled nursing facilities are a hospital-like environment, cleanliness is of utmost importance. Aside from comprehensive cleaning and disinfecting, staff may also take care of other patient needs like laundry.|
|Caregiver Availability||Assisted living communities can offer 24/7 caregiver support & care to provide assistance when needed.||Staff and nurses are on call 24/7 to assist patients with basic tasks as well as important tasks like bathing or dressing.|
|Minor Medical Supervision||Residents in assisted living communities have access to nursing staff that can monitor vital signs or medication reminders.||Skilled nursing patients are under constant medical supervision including nurses and doctors.|
|Intensive Medical Supervision||Intensive medical supervision is not always provided in assisted living communities as there may not be licensed physicians on call 24/7.||Skilled nursing facilities offer intensive medical supervision around the clock under constant care of doctors and nurses.|
|Medication Management||Medication management services are available in assisted living communities.||Medication management services are available in skilled nursing facilities.|
|Medical Professionals On-Call||Medical professionals are typically only available during regular business hours. In the event of an emergency, residents would need to be transferred to the ER.||Medical professionals including doctors and nurses are available around the clock to provide immediate medical assistance.|
|Level of Activities||Activities available in assisted living communities are focused on socialization and health. Activities might include movie nights, arts & crafts and exercise classes.||Activities in skilled nursing facilities tend to be less strenuous and can be provided in a patients room if they are unable to join the group.|
|Assistance with Daily Activities (ADLs)||Assistance with daily activities is available around the clock, as needed.||Assistance with daily activities is available around the clock, as needed.|
|Transportation||Assisted living communities do offer transportation services to help residents get to appointments, run errands or visit friends and family.||Skilled nursing facilities offer transportation so that patients can get to appointments, therapy sessions or other destinations.|
|Cost & Expenses||The cost for assisted living communities averages about $4,500 per month. More affordable communities can cost as little as $2,800 per month and more luxurious, higher-end communities can run as much as $6,000 per month or more.||Because skilled nursing facilities are a medical-like environment, the cost averages roughly $15,000 per month. Some facilities can be as low as $6,000 per month while others may be as much as $25,000 per month.|
|Payment||Assisted living communities may not be covered by private insurance. Financial assistance may be available based on the Medicaid program in your state.||Skilled nursing facilities are almost always covered by private insurance, Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare and Medicaid may limit a patient stay to 100 days. Contact your private insurance for details on coverage.|
|Level of Independence||Residents in assisted living communities control their own schedule, level of privacy and activities.||As patients in skilled nursing facilities tend to be under intensive medical supervision, they may be on a strict schedule depending on what their needs are.|
|The Goal||Assisted living communities tend to focus on providing assistance when needed while still allowing senior residents to maintain a level of independence for as long as possible.||Patients in skilled nursing facilities tend to need comprehensive medical care and rehabilitation so, whether long-term or short-term, the goal is rehabilitate and provide necessary medical support when needed.|
The Key Differences Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing
The easiest way to decide between skilled nursing and assisted living is to understand the key differences in care. Here are the key differences between skilled nursing and assisted living in more detail:
1. Accommodations/Setting (medical vs. residential)
Assisted Living Setting & Accommodations
Assisted living facilities are designed to be residential environments. Assisted living services can be provided in a variety of settings, including apartments or small homes. The goal is to create an environment that promotes as much independence as possible while providing necessary care and assistance with activities of daily life, such as dressing and bathing.
Skilled Nursing Setting & Accommodations
The setting for skilled nursing is a medical setting. Skilled nursing facilities are typically in a hospital-like environment, with nurses and doctors available 24 hours per day to assist residents. Residents can expect skilled nursing services from staff members who have specific training in their particular needs, including speech pathologists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists.
2. Meals & Snacks
Meals & Snacks in Assisted Living
At Eden Senior Care, our residents do not need to worry about cooking. Fresh meals are prepared by a chef daily, 3 times a day. We also provide snacks and drinks throughout the day.
Meals & Snacks in Skilled Nursing
We understand the importance of nutrition especially during recovery. Our guests receive daily meals, 3 times a day and of course snacks and water throughout the day. We want our guests to focus on their recovery, and we take care of the rest.
3. Housekeeping Services
Housekeeping in Assisted Living
Typically, assisted living communities provide light housekeeping. This includes floors, bedding, bathroom, and dusting. However, if residents choose to clean themselves, they have that option. This promotes independence and gives residents the feeling of having their own space, while still being provided with a safe environment.
Housekeeping in Skilled Nursing
In a skilled nursing facility, housekeeping services are included as part of the package of services because it is necessary to keep patient rooms clean to prevent infection. The staff will also do laundry for patients who are unable to do it themselves.
4. Caregiver Availability
Caregiver Availability in Assisted Living
At Eden Senior Care assisted living communities, we offer 24/7 caregiver support and care. Family members will experience peace of mind knowing their loved ones are taken care of at all time of the day.
Caregiver Availability in Skilled Nursing
In skilled nursing, team members and nurses are always available to help residents with their needs around-the-clock. This includes providing assistance with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, and toileting.
5. Minor Medical Supervision
Minor Medical Supervision in Assisted Living
With assisted living, residents can receive assistance with their medications or regular monitoring of vital signs by medical nursing staff.
Minor Medical Supervision in Skilled Nursing
In skilled nursing, there is always skilled medical supervision available because the facility itself has physicians who are in charge of supervising and monitoring the skilled nursing staff.
6. Major Intensive Medical Supervision
Major Medical Supervision in Assisted Living
In assisted living, major medical supervision is not always provided. While most assisted living facilities have nurses on staff, they are not usually licensed physicians. This means that if a resident needs major medical supervision, it may not be available at all times in an assisted living setting.
Major Medical Supervision in Skilled Nursing
In skilled nursing, major intensive medical supervision is always available because skilled nursing staff work under the direct supervision of licensed physicians. This means that skilled nursing residents always have access to the highest level of medical care available.
7. Medication Management
Medication Management in Assisted Living
Assisted living communities do offer medication management services. This means that there is always someone available to assist your loved one with his or her medication needs.
Medication Management in Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing facilities do offer medication management services. This means that there is always someone available to assist your loved one with his or her medication needs.
8. Medical Professionals On Call
Medical Professionals Availability in Assisted Living
In assisted living facilities, medical professionals are only available during regular working hours. This means that if there is an emergency, your loved one will need to be transferred to an emergency room.
Medical Professionals Availability in Skilled Nursing
In skilled nursing facilities, skilled nurses are available 24 hours a day. This means that if there is an emergency at night or on the weekend, skilled nurses will be able to assist your loved one immediately. This means that your loved one will always receive the care he or she needs in case of an emergency.
9. Level of Activities
Level of Activities in Assisted Living Communities
Assisted living communities offer activities such as exercise classes, arts and crafts, movie nights, and more. These activities are designed to help seniors stay active as well as socialize with other residents in the community. There is never a dull moment!
Level of Activities in Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing facilities also offer a wider variety of activities. Each month, the activity department sends out a calendar filled with exciting activities for the month. Residents are encouraged to participate in the activities if they wish.
10. Assistance with Daily Activities (ADLs)
Assistance with Daily Activities in Assisted Living
With assisted living, you can usually expect help with ADLs. Most assisted living communities offer assistance with all of the basic activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, grooming, toileting, and eating).
Assistance with Daily Activities in Skilled Nursing
With skilled nursing, the level of assistance with daily activities varies depending on your individual needs. If you are able to complete many basic self-care tasks without help, skilled nursing will only step in to provide you with minimal assistance when needed.
Transportation in Assisted Living
Assisted living communities offer transportation to residents. This makes it easier for seniors to run errands, visit family and friends, and go on outings with other residents. They may offer transportation in the form of a van or bus that can accommodate several passengers at once.
Transportation in Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing communities also offer transportation services so that their residents can get to and from appointments, therapy sessions, and other destinations.
12. Cost & Expenses
Cost of Assisted Living
The cost of assisted living ranges from $2,800 to $6,000 per month, with the average cost being around $4,000. Assisted living is considerably more affordable than skilled nursing facilities because the staff is not as highly skilled and the accommodations are not as luxurious.
Cost of Skilled Nursing
The cost of skilled nursing care can range from $6,000 to $25,000 per month, with the average being around $15,000. This high price tag is due to the fact that skilled nursing facilities offer 24-hour medical care and skilled nursing staff, plus luxurious accommodations and thoughtful amenities.
To find out about Eden Senior Care’s pricing, contact one of our facilities today and an admission specialist will be glad to help you.
Payment for Assisted Living
Assisted living communities are not often covered by insurance. This is because insurance companies view assisted living as a housing arrangement rather than skilled nursing care. You may be able to get some coverage by qualifying for Medicaid in your state if you meet certain eligibility requirements.
Payment for Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing facilities can often be covered by insurance and Medicare, depending on the situation. If skilled nursing is medically necessary, Medicare may foot the bill for up to 100 days of skilled nursing care in a skilled nursing facility after a hospitalization. To learn more about how skilled nursing is covered by insurance, view our helpful guide below.
14. Level of Independence
Level of Independence in Assisted Living
In assisted living, you’re in control of your schedule, and most facilities offer à la carte services that assist with medication management, meal preparation, bathing, and grooming assistance.
Level of Independence in Skilled Nursing
In skilled nursing care facilities, residents will require a higher level of assisted care than what is offered in the typical assisted living community. This means that skilled nurses or therapists will come in and out of a resident’s room throughout the day.
15. The Goal
Goal of Assisted Living
Assisted living’s goal is to help residents maintain their independence for as long as possible. This way, they can continue living in a comfortable and familiar environment.
Goal of Skilled Nursing
Skilled nursing’s goal is to provide around-the-clock skilled care and rehabilitation services to those who need them. This can be either short-term or long-term assistance, depending on the person’s needs.
Related: Assisted Living vs. In-Home Care
Deciding Which is Right For You or Your Loved One
To decide which is right for you or your loved one, you’ll need to consider the level of care that’s needed. If skilled nursing is required, then assisted living may not be the best option. However, if assistance with day-to-day activities is all that’s needed, assisted living can be a great choice.
At Eden Senior Health Care, we offer assisted living and skilled nursing facilities. We provide around-the-clock skilled care and rehabilitation services to those who need them. This can be either short-term or long-term assistance, depending on the person’s needs.
Our goal is to help our residents live with dignity so that they can enjoy their golden years. Speak with one of our intake specialists today to learn more about skilled nursing vs. assisted living and how we can help you or your loved one lead a healthy, happy life.