“Nursing home” is by far the most popular name for a long-term residential health care facility, but whether formally or informally, there are other phrases which can be used more or less interchangeably. For instance, in somewhat of a pejorative sense, people might refer to one of these establishments as an “old folks home.” A more acceptable term, though, and one is that is more respectful of both the people who reside there and the professionals who work within is that of a “skilled nursing facility”.
Depending on the context and the descriptor, skilled nursing facilities can be the same exact thing as nursing homes. As defined by others, however, a skilled nursing facility observes certain minimum eligibility requirements, meaning that not all nursing homes are skilled nursing facilities. Some notes on the malleability of the term:
Though it would seem as if a primary determinant of a skilled nursing facility would be that of a specific skill practiced by the nursing staff, the type of financial assistance a nursing home receives may also go a long way in helping define it. The foremost sources of aid received by skilled nursing facilities and their patients are Medicaid.
When a nursing home is billed expressly as a “skilled nursing facility,” certain basic standards must be adhered to. Skilled nursing facilities, for example, must have a licensed practical nurse (LPN) on the premises or each residential floor in case of multiple-story centers at all times, and a registered nurse (RN) in the area at least eight hours (i.e. one shift) of the day.
The most numerous of any kind of employee on the staff, though, more so than even nurses, is that of certified nursing assistants (CNAs), as they must handle some of the most menial tasks in a nursing home setting as per their job. As a matter of fact, CNAs may outnumber licensed nurses by more than two to one at any given time (although realistically, both positions have a tendency to be understaffed).
One of the most critical things for a skilled nursing facility to satisfy to survive is regularly passing state and federal requirements. All skilled nursing facilities are regulated on a statewide basis by the departments of health and human services in each district, and receive visits every so often whereby an extensive review of the facility is conducted by departmental agents.
Potentially, any nursing homes that fail certain elements of the assessment may receive consequences such as fines and, at the worst case scenario, termination and/or criminal charges. Meanwhile, concerning federal standards, failing on their specified counts may hurt facilities in earning Medicare, Medicaid and other benefits in the future.