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What’s the Difference Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Homes?

October 15, 2022

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When people hear the term “senior living,” they may think of it as one lifestyle option or service. However, the world of senior living offers many levels of care and options, each specific to different needs and lifestyle preferences. While this is a good thing, it can be confusing to someone trying to figure out which type of care or level of senior living is right for them or a loved one.

Because they both offer support and assistance to residents, assisted living and nursing homes or skilled nursing care facilities are often mistaken for one another. However, while they both fall under the senior living umbrella, they offer different levels of care and support.

Our Franciscan Ministries’ communities offer a variety of senior living services in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, including assisted living and skilled nursing care. Through our experience of providing residents with exceptional, person-centered care, we have developed a deep understanding of each level of care, and we want to help you find the right lifestyle option for yourself or a family member. This is why we are sharing the key differences between skilled nursing care and assisted living services.

Exploring Assisted Living Services

According to the American Health Care Association, “Assisted living is part of a continuum of long-term care services that provides a combination of housing, personal care services, and health care designed to respond to individuals who need assistance with normal daily activities in a way that promotes maximum independence.”

In simple terms, assisted living is a senior living lifestyle option for individuals who need support and assistance with one or more of the activities of daily living (bathing, dressing, etc.) but wish to maintain as much of their independence as possible.

Many assisted living communities, such as those managed by Franciscan Ministries, are designed like residential apartment homes. Each resident has their own space within a supportive community setting that encourages engagement and socialization.

Every community offers its own set of unique services and amenities, but common assisted living amenities include:

  • Staff available 24/7
  • Emergency call systems
  • Dining options
  • Personal care services
  • Community social activities and events
  • Housekeeping and laundry services
  • Home maintenance

Understanding Skilled Nursing Care

Skilled nursing care is called by many names based on its setting. At Franciscan Communities,  skilled nursing is a care option for individuals who need extra time to heal before returning home after a surgery or hospital stay.

According to Medicare, “Skilled care is nursing and therapy care that can only be safely and effectively performed by, or under the supervision of, professionals or technical personnel. It’s health care given when you need skilled nursing or skilled therapy to treat, manage, and observe your condition, and evaluate your care.”

The term “skilled” describes care delivery above and beyond what can normally be provided in the home. This includes 24-hour monitoring with a licensed nursing team, physical, occupational, and speech therapists, social services team, and an overseeing physician working collaboratively to achieve an individual’s optimal wellness. In many cases, individuals may transition from a hospital to a skilled nursing community to continue recovering from an illness, injury or surgery.

The Key Differences

Even though assisted living services and skilled nursing care are classified as types of senior living and offer supportive care services, the level of care provided is where the main difference between these two levels lies.

In an assisted living community, individuals receive care and support that can be done by a caregiver or certified nursing assistant. Assisted living residents maintain as much of their independence as possible while receiving care and assistance with the activities of daily living or in the areas where they need support.

On the other hand, care given in a skilled nursing community needs to be provided by a medical professional. Individuals in need of skilled nursing care are often recovering from a surgery, a stroke, an illness or living with a chronic health condition that requires continuous monitoring.

Finding the right level of senior living care, as well as the right community, for yourself or someone you love is essential for enhancing quality of life. Assisted living and nursing homes can offer the right level of attention and care with personalized care and access to engaging amenities in a supportive environment.

At Franciscan Ministries, our senior living communities in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio offer several care options to choose from, allowing you to find the best fit for your family. To learn more about our communities and what we have to offer, we invite you to visit our website or contact a member of our team.