A common source of confusion for those looking into and evaluating care options for their loved ones is understanding the difference between a skilled nursing facility and a rehab center. It is common to hear the two terms used interchangeably, but in fact, skilled nursing facilities and rehab centers are very different from each other.
Each type of facility has their own set of specific roles and treatment plans that they offer, and if your loved one needs assistance, you need to know which one is best for them and their care.
What are Rehab Centers?
Rehab centers offer programs that help patients recover from traumatic injuries such as a stroke, spinal cord injury, car accident, or any other event that has affected their ability to live everyday life. These centers employ therapy, treatments, education, and routine medical treatment to help patients develop the skills they need to get back on their feet and moving as they were before their accident or injury.
In addition to helping patients regain their mobility and get better, one of the other main goals is to provide treatment that allows them to live at home without the need for 24/7 care. This means that rehabilitation centers are not long term care facilities. Instead, they are intended to rehabilitate the patient through routine visits where the patient works with a healthcare provider and then returns home when the appointment is over.
What Treatments are Offered at a Rehab Center?
The overall goal of attending rehab is to help you regain any abilities you have lost due to injury or illness, which will allow you to return to everyday living. When you begin rehabilitation, you often have a team of different health care providers helping you determine the goals for your treatments and assisting you in obtaining them through various treatments.
Here are some common treatments that a patient may go through in a rehab center:
- Learning how to use assistive devices such as a wheelchair or crutches that help people with disabilities move around
- Cognitive rehabilitation to help relearn or improve skills such as thinking, learning, memory recall, and decision making
- Occupational therapy to help with daily activities
- Speech-language therapy to help with speaking, understanding, writing, reading, and swallowing
- Physical therapy to help regain range of motion as well as to reduce pain
What is a Skilled Nursing Facility?
Skilled nursing facilities provide care and assistance to patients suffering from wide varieties of severe diseases and injuries. These facilities offer many services to help care for their patients, and these services include different types of therapies and long-term care.
Skilled nursing facilities provide some of the same forms of therapy and treatment that a rehabilitation center does. However, they build on this by also offering custodial and long-term care for their patients. Custodial and long-term care is for patients who need more advanced forms of nursing services such as assistance with daily living and intravenous injections (IV) or any other forms of receiving medications.
What Treatments are Offered at a Skilled Nursing Center?
Skilled nursing centers provide a level of care beyond the treatment and accessibility offered at a rehab center. Skilled nursing facilities provide most of the services that a rehab center do, but they are the only ones who can do the following:
- Wound Care
- Intravenous Therapy
- Monitoring of Vitals
- 24/7 Care
If your loved one needs advanced care and treatment, then a skilled nursing facility is the best option for them.
How to Choose Between a Skilled Nursing Center and a Rehab Center
If you are determining which treatment center is best for a loved one, here are two of the most important factors to consider:
Length of Stay
The main determining factor in deciding which treatment facility is best for your loved one is the amount of care they will need. If your loved one sustained a superficial injury that does not require daily physical therapy and treatment, then a rehab center is best for them. If your loved one suffered a devasting injury that requires daily treatment and limits their ability to perform everyday tasks, then a skilled nursing center is best for them.
Costs and Coverage
While your loved one may be eligible for full or partial coverage of their treatment through Medicare, they may still be required to pay a deductible for any in-patient, long term care. This means that if your loved one needs to stay in a skilled nursing facility with around the clock care, it will cost more.