Aviva Senior Living


January 31, 2020

April 13, 2023

What Is the Difference Between Skilled Nursing & Long Term Care?

When a senior experiences a fall, has a surgery, or is grappling with a chronic condition, it can be difficult to determine the best type of care for them. Two options to consider are a skilled nursing facility or long term care. These two types of senior assisted living are both ideal for those who need help with activities of daily life, but differ in their specializations and types of care they can offer. 

What is skilled nursing?

Skilled nursing is typically short-term acute care. Skilled nursing facilities are typically rehabilitative facilities designed to offer 24 hour care from licensed medical professionals including doctors, RNs, and specialized occupational, physical and speech therapists. In a skilled nursing setting, a physician oversees the care of each patient. 

People may need skilled care for a short period while recovering from an illness or surgery, or they may need this level of care long term.  Here is a list of examples of skilled care:

  • Wound and post-surgical care
  • Injected medications
  • IV therapy
  • Physical, occupation and speech therapy
  • Regular monitoring of heart rate, blood pressure, or blood sugar

Skilled nursing facilities typically serve as a transition between a hospital and a more permanent residence, whether that’s private independent living or assisted living. Because it’s intended as temporary rehabilitative care, skilled nursing is typically at least partially covered by medical insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. Your specific plan coverage will likely vary.

What is long term care?

Long term care refers to assisted living where a senior needs the assistance of a caregiver for activities of daily living, such as eating, bathing, and taking oral medications at the correct time, in addition to ongoing access to licensed medical care. 

Long term care facilities are typically part of skilled nursing facilities, making them ideal for residents who need hands-on care and supervision around the clock, but don’t need the specialized care of skilled nursing. 

Long term care is ideal for patients who have:

  • Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other cognitive disorders
  • Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions
  • Chronic conditions limiting mobility and ability to live independently

Long term care isn’t meant to provide the same level of medical care as skilled nursing, but there will likely be access to medical practitioners should they be needed. Because long term care is more of a permanent residence than skilled nursing, it isn’t typically covered by insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. That said, your specific plan coverages may vary. 

Choosing between skilled nursing and long term care 

When trying to determine whether skilled nursing or long term care makes more sense, you should consider the ultimate goal. Is the aim to help the patient rehabilitate after an injury or surgery and return to an independent living environment? Or does the patient require more ongoing care due to a chronic condition? 

Whether you’re looking to move yourself or a loved one into assisted living or long term care, you should consider a few key factors about where you choose to move. First and foremost, you should consider the staff’s credentials and manner. Are they friendly, respectful, and thoughtful? Do they have experience caring for others with your condition? Is there easy access to all of the therapists and specialists you might need? 

You should also consider the facility itself. Some skilled nursing and long term care facilities tend to feel clinical. For an extended stay, you should look for a place that offers luxury amenities, welcoming decor, regular housekeeping, and well-kept grounds. You should also look for opportunities for exercise, socialization, and education in order to keep the mind and body active during skilled nursing and long term care.

At Aviva, we’re proud to offer Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Memory Care all on a single campus, with the ability to easily move from one living environment to another as care needs evolve. Each of our residences is designed to meet the unique needs of our senior residents and their conditions, with activities and gatherings for each of our buildings and the campus as a whole.

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© currentYear Aviva Senior Living.- All Rights Reserved | Assisted Living Facility License# 8951. Medicare/Medicaid Certified Skilled Nursing Facility License # 130471046. The services and facilities of Sarasota-Manatee Aviva Jewish Housing Foundation, Inc. Are operated on a non-discriminatory basis, which applies to admissions, services, and employment. Sponsored by the Sarasota-Manatee Aviva Jewish Housing Foundation, Inc.