Skilled Nursing Care: Fact vs. Myth
Over time, Skilled Nursing Care centers, like all areas of health care, have advanced in terms of clinical practices, resident rights, quality improvement, and the overall approach to the needs and wants of residents and patients. Yet, even today, many misperceptions about nursing homes persist, professionally called Skilled Nursing Care centers. Separating fact from fiction will help you stay open to all of your care options.
Here are some common myths worth exploring:
Myth: Nursing and post-acute care centers are like hospitals.
Fact: While Skilled Nursing and post-acute care centers do offer in-depth medical care, they are very different from hospitals. Today’s centers offer home-like comforts and a less-structured atmosphere. They promote autonomy and choice, and offer a variety of services, social activities and recreational opportunities. Residents can customize their daily routine, and are encouraged to continue social activities and personal interests. Skilled Nursing Care centers are resident- and community-focused. Dining rooms, activities, outings and companionship offer residents and patients mental, physical and social stimulation.
Myth: Skilled Nursing Care center patients never leave or go out on trips.
Fact: Skilled Nursing Care centers care for a variety of patients, each with different needs. Some will stay only for a month recovering from an injury or illness; other patients, like those with serious medical conditions, might require a lengthier stay of a year or more. On average, one of four people being cared for in a Skilled Nursing Care center will stay less than three months. And more than 1.7 million individuals each year get the rehabilitative care they need in a Skilled Nursing Care center. Every day, Skilled Nursing Care centers are helping residents achieve their highest potential. For many residents, reaching that goal means they are able to leave the center for an outing or to visit loved ones or friends.
2010 Medicare & Medicaid Statistical Supplement from CMS
Myth: Skilled Nursing Care center patients seem confused.
Myth: There’s no privacy in a Skilled Nursing Care center.
Myth: Residents cannot make their own decisions.
Fact: It is a resident’s legal right to make choices regarding activities, daily routines, health care and other aspects of life. The center’s responsibility is to provide an environment where residents can live together safely and harmoniously. While this sometimes requires a balancing act, centers’ over-arching goals involve respecting residents’ rights and preferences and providing quality care in a supportive environment.
Resident councils provide residents a say in care. These self-governing bodies of residents voice concerns to staff and to one another. Residents are also encouraged to prepare advance directives to specify and safeguard care preferences in the event they are unable to express their wishes.
Myth: Skilled Nursing Care centers have unpleasant odors.
Myth: Skilled Nursing Care centers are unreasonably expensive.
Fact: Long term and post-hospital care costs vary, depending upon the level of care provided and where the center is located. Overall, Skilled Nursing Care centers represent the lowest cost setting for 24-hour professional skilled nursing and rehabilitative care for both short and long term stays. According to the 2011 Cost of Care Survey of Home Care Providers, Adult Day Health Care Facilities, Assisted Living Facilities and Nursing Homes from Genworth Financial, the national median daily rate for Skilled Nursing Care is $193 per day for a semi-private room and $219 per day for a private room (vs. $1,797 average per day in a hospital*). The daily cost covers 24/7 comprehensive professional medical and personal care, room, board and a full range of social activity programming.
Updated CMS Memo on Medicare IRF PPS & 75% Rule Memo, dated June 8, 2007
*Hospital Adjusted Expenses per Inpatient Day, 2009 Kaiser’s State Health Facts
Myth: Skilled Nursing Care centers do not provide quality care.
Myth: Residents are not visited regularly by family and friends.
Myth: Meals are not appetizing.
Myth: Patients are given too many medications.
Myth: Physical restraints and mechanical devices are common.
Myth: Medicare or health insurance will pay for a long stay.
Myth: Residents in Skilled Nursing Care centers are not treated well by the staff.
Fact: The overwhelming majority of Skilled Nursing Caregivers work in the long term and post-hospital care field because they want to help people and make a difference in patients’ lives. The ratings for compassionate, expert medical care are the highest they’ve ever been. According to the 2011 Survey of Customer and Employee Satisfaction in Nursing Homes, 88 percent of residents are satisfied with the quality of their care, and 87 percent of residents and their family members would recommend their Skilled Nursing Care or rehabilitation center, based largely on the care, concern and competency of the staff.
2011 National Survey of Customer and Employee Satisfaction in Nursing Homes
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility Care, http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/static/Interim/PDF_Interim.asp?Language=English&Type=Pub&PubID=10153, September 2007, available at http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/static/Interim/PDF_Interim.asp?Language=English&Type=Pub&PubID=10153, downloaded October 7, 2011. Medx Publishing, Medicare Premiums and Coinsurance for 2011, available at http://www.medicare.com/medicare-coverage-basics/medicare-premiums-and-coinsurance-for-2011.html, accessed October 7, 2011. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, “About Medicare Coverage”, available at http://www.medicare.gov/NHCompare/static/tabSI.asp?language=English&activeTab=3&subTab=17&version=alternate, accessed October 7, 2011.