A Skilled Nursing Facility: Choosing the Right One

Elderly woman in wheelchair with daughter at a skilled nursing facilityChoosing a skilled nursing facility is a big decision. Whether individuals need a short stay to rehabilitate after surgery, stroke or illness, or are in need of long-term care, modern skilled nursing facilities offer an increasingly wide range of services and accommodations.

Many skilled nursing care facilities, also commonly known as nursing homes, provide a staggering array of services to help residents transition from hospital to home. For example, Providence Marionwood in Issaquah, Washington, offers inpatient and outpatient occupational, physical and speech therapy, as well as massage, music therapy and therapeutic recreation.

Similarly, Mercer Island Care and Rehabilitation near Seattle provides traditional therapies plus specialty therapies relating to oncology care, IV therapy, neurology, wound care, stroke and amputation.

Every Skilled Nursing Resident Is Unique

With so many amazing and targeted therapies available, it is still important to zero in on the patient’s needs. At some facilities, such as Mirabella Seattle, short-term rehabilitation is the norm. Elective surgeries such as hip and knee replacements make up from 50 to 70 percent of rehab patients, who stay on average three to four weeks. Otherwise, strokes and pneumonia patents are most commonly admitted, according to Mirabella Health Care Administrator, Manu Mooker.

Every skilled nursing facility has its own dynamic and focus, suggests Mirabella Activities Director, Courtney Warren. If families are evaluating long-term care, they need to look at what the state survey says. Review the books and evaluate the operation. Some of the most telling survey citations relate to bedsores and abuse, says Warren. “In addition, is the facility clean? Does the staff have the appropriate certifications and qualifications? Talk to the staff and ask what they have done to correct citations.”

Evaluating Short-Term Rehab in a Skilled Nursing Facility

When evaluating a short-term rehabilitative environment, continues Warren, check to make sure the therapies available meet your needs. What is the quality and frequency of service and education at the skilled nursing facility? She notes that with hip and knee surgeries, for example, physical and occupational therapy tends to be intense. Do these disciplines coordinate their services as well as take into account the resident’s needs for a flexible schedule if family should come to call?

Also, notes Mooker, residents should have individualized care plans that not only ease patients into therapies but time pain medications prior to therapy to mitigate the pain. “Individuals’ pain tolerance affects how they respond to therapy,” says Mooker. “By tending to their needs we reduce the pain barrier from their rehabilitation.”

Little Things Mean a Lot at a Skilled Nursing Facility

Other features to evaluate when choosing a skilled nursing facility add to the rehabilitation equation. For starters, private rooms as opposed to shared or double rooms give residents the privacy they need to garner a good night’s sleep, entertain, toilette in privacy and personalize their space. “We see people heal better physically, emotionally and psychologically when they don’t have to share their space with a stranger,” observes Mooker

Finally, Warren suggests that whether long-term or short-term, skilled nursing facility residents benefit from the availability of social activities. At facilities such as Mirabella, staff take a personal history of each new resident and ask them what they like to do.

“We have all levels of care so we have lots of opportunities to provide participation in activities from live music to our mobile library, parties and church services,” says Warren. “We go beyond traditional nursing home activities by listening to our residents as well as developing meaningful, purposeful activities that bring joy to our residents.”

Find a Skilled Nursing Facility

There are thousands of great nuring homes offering skilled nursing care across the United States. Browse our nationwide directory to find a skilled nursing facility near you.

Written by senior care writer Leslee Jaquette.