The Difference Between Skilled Nursing Facilities and Nursing Homes

Difference Between Skilled Nursing Facilities and Nursing Homes

Realizing you need assistance with caregiving of an ailing loved one can be overwhelming. There are so many different types of nurses and specialized care, it can feel as if you need a lesson just to comprehend exactly what you need.

In hopes that we can make the process easier for you, we’ve created an overview of the differences between skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes.

They both fall under the long-term care (LTC) umbrella, but they vary greatly in the services provided. And while some nursing homes offer skilled nursing, not all of them do.

What Is a Nursing Home?

A Nursing Home is a place for people who do not need to be in a hospital but cannot be cared for at home. Most nursing homes have nurse’s aides and skilled nurses on hand 24 hours a day. Care in a nursing home includes:

  • Personal hygiene
  • Activities of daily living, such as getting dressed, going to the bathroom, and eating meals
  • Recreational activities

These tasks can be performed either in a nursing home or in a patient’s home. If the patient chooses to remain in their own household, the custodian can also assist with light chores, such as buying groceries, doing laundry, preparing meals, and driving the patient to doctor’s appointments.

People who provide this type of care are not required to have a medical background.

What Is a Skilled Nursing Facility?

A skilled nursing facility is a lot like a nursing home, but offers more “skilled” medical expertise and services. They have licensed nurses and therapists on staff to assist residents with their medical care. Due to the type of services they provide, it’s an excellent option for guests who require any of the following:

Some hospitals and some nursing homes have their own skilled nursing facilities. If you’re at a loss with where to start looking, there’s a helpful list on

It’s noteworthy that unlike a nursing home, a skilled nursing facility accommodates residents of all ages. Patients are often moved to a skilled nursing facility once they’re discharged from a hospital, but still need additional time and assistance to recuperate.

Are There Any Differences in Regulations?

Skilled Nursing Facility:

Medicare will cover a stay at a skilled nurse facility if the patient’s doctor deems it necessary for the patient to receive such care. Coverage includes:

While such a list is encouraging, there is a caveat: Medicare will only cover up to 100 days in total of skilled nursing. Also, Medicare will only cover the full costs for up to the first 20 days. Between days 21 and 100, the patient will have to pay the coinsurance. If your loved one needs care past the 100 days, Medicare will not cover any portion of skilled nursing.

Nursing Homes

Medicare is not required to cover personal care, that includes the activities of daily living, bathing, dressing, meal preparation, and transfers. If this is the type of assistance your loved one needs, there are other options available, such as traditional health insurance, LTC insurance, or Medicaid.

If the patient is a veteran, he or she may qualify for federal benefits to cover custodial care.

Medicaid will cover some of the costs, but the recipient must meet strict financial requirements and provide proof that the assistance is medically necessary. In addition, each state has their own requirements. Specifically, Florida has a screening process called Comprehensive Assessment and Review for Long-Term Care Services (CARES). If the patient is an SSI (Supplemental Security Income) recipient, they are already eligible for Medicaid coverage.

There are other factors that may prevent an applicant from qualifying for Medicaid, such as possessing too many assets (money in the bank, a retirement account, or real property or motor vehicles).

If your loved one has been pre-screened and qualifies for custodial care from a nursing home, it’s crucial for you to know if the potential facility accepts Medicaid as a form of payment. Not all of them do.

Contact Sonas for Skilled Nursing Care Services

If you or a loved one need regular assistance, let us help you. At Sonas Home Health Care, we have an entire team of experienced caregivers to ensure the wellbeing of our patients.

If you or an aging loved one are considering skilled nursing care services in Florida, contact the caring staff at Sonas Home Health Care. Call today (888) 592-5855.

Janelle Thomas MSN, RN
Director of Clinical Education at Sonas Home Health Care

Janelle Thomas MSN, RN — Director of Clinical Education for Sonas Home Health Care — reviewed this content for clinical accuracy. Janelle Thomas has been a nurse for 8 years — working primarily in pediatrics. She believes that nothing is more rewarding in home health care than creating a connection with a patient and their families that will last a lifetime.