According to recent statistics, 60% of people over age 65 will spend time in a nursing home, or long-term care facility. Although spending time in a long-term care facility is not something that most people plan on or look forward to, knowing your options ahead of time can help you make a well-informed choice if the need arises.
Facilities run the gamut from the most intensive 24-hour care for seriously ill patients to more traditional “nursing homes”, providing social and recreation activities and very little medical intervention. Here’s an overview:
- Hospital –Based Skilled Nursing Facilities: The most intensive, and most expensive, form of long-term care facility, hospital-based skilled nursing facilities are departments within hospitals. They cater to patients who need short-term, acute care following serious illness, injury, or surgery. Patients in this type of facility receive intensive 24-hour medical care.
- Skilled Nursing Facilities. Next on the scale is the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF). This type of facility not located in a hospital, but it does provide quite a high level of nursing and other medical care, plus personal care and assistance. This is where patients are often transferred after they are released from the hospital following injury, illness or surgery and need f extended recovery time – often ranging from a few days to a few months. An SNF generally has licensed vocational or practical nurses available 24 hours a day, with supervision by at least one registered nurse. As a rule, Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance cover skilled nursing facilities up to specified limits.
- Intermediate Care Facilities. Intermediate Care Facilities (ICF’s) are often housed in the same facility as a Skilled Nursing Facility or a Custodial Care Facility. An ICF is designed for people who are recovering from an illness, injury or surgery, but whose needs run less toward medical care and more toward personal care, although ICF’s always have a licensed practical or vocational nurse on duty. Often, ICF’s are not covered by Medicare or private insurance; however, Medicaid provides coverage in some cases.
- Custodial Care Facilities. Custodial Care Facilities (CCF’s) are what most people think of when they hear the term “nursing home”. CCF’s are geared toward helping long-term residents with personal care and low-level medical monitoring. They also provide residents with educational, social, and recreational activities. They are much less expensive, on a per-day basis, than the other types of facilities listed, and are often covered by Medicaid and long-term care insurance.
To find reputable facilities near you, ask around for referrals. Check with family and friends who have had experiences with local facilities, ask your doctor or hospital discharge planner, and check with your pastor. Once you’ve narrowed your options, visit the facilities and interview the staff to get a feel for whether they’re a good fit for you or your loved one. For additional advice on choosing or paying for long-term care, consult an elder law attorney.