What's the Difference Between Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living?Brandermill Woods independent living angle

What's the Difference Between Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living?

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Many older adults choose Independent Living communities for their diverse programming and opportunities to build new relationships. However, the aging process often triggers the need for additional support and assistance, and you may find yourself exploring other senior living options. Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing are two options offering distinct levels of care. Understanding the difference between these care levels is crucial in making an informed decision tailored to your needs and preferences.

Overview of Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing

Assisted Living is a great option for seniors who want to retain as much independence as possible but need assistance with everyday activities, such as meals, bathing, dressing, and medication management. For those with more extensive medical needs, Skilled Nursing provides a higher level of care, such as access to around-the-clock nursing and specialized medical care. To compare these two senior living options, let’s dive into some specific similarities and differences.

Differences in Settings and Amenities

First, let’s compare the setting, amenities, and overall environment. In Assisted Living, the focus is on fostering a supportive atmosphere that helps promote independence, while Skilled Nursing has a greater focus on health care to ensure residents receive the higher level of care they need to thrive. However, many amenities and services overlap between the two, such as three meals prepared daily, transportation to appointments, regular housekeeping services, and scheduled activities to promote socialization. Residents of Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing also have access to the same on-site amenities and services, such as beauty parlors and fitness areas.

Other features differ, such as housing. All our Assisted Living apartments at Brandermill Woods are private and unfurnished to allow residents to bring their own furniture and decorate however they desire. We provide spacious private or semi-private furnished rooms for our Skilled Nursing residents.

Difference Between Medical Staff and Care

The primary difference between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing involves who provides a resident’s care and the type of care provided. While Assisted Living residents receive personal care from trained caregivers, Skilled Nursing includes care that can only be provided by licensed healthcare professionals, such as registered nurses, physical therapists, or an on-site physician. The higher level of care in Skilled Nursing is suitable for individuals with chronic medical conditions or those recovering from surgery who need medical supervision and intervention.

Insurance Coverage in Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing

Understanding insurance coverage is essential in planning for your future needs. Both levels of care have limited insurance coverage options. Health insurance doesn’t cover Assisted Living costs, but applicable health services, such as physician services, therapy, and durable medical equipment, may be billed to medical insurance. Medicare doesn’t usually cover Assisted Living.

Long-term custodial care as provided in Skilled Nursing isn’t covered by commercial insurance, Medicare or Medigap except in certain circumstances. If an individual had a qualifying hospital stay of at least three consecutive nights and qualifies for inpatient skilled nursing care on a daily basis, Medicare covers up to 100 days of Skilled Nursing in a benefit period. Although there’s no limit to the number of benefit periods a person can have, they must have another 3-day hospital stay and meet the other Medicare requirements to gain each additional 100-day benefit period.

Financial Considerations in Assisted Living vs. Skilled Nursing

Financial considerations play a significant role in choosing the right level of care. Assisted Living costs less than Skilled Nursing, making it the more cost-effective option. However, it’s crucial to weigh cost differences against your level of care needs. Also, don’t overlook any of your payment options.

Although Medicare doesn’t usually cover Assisted Living, private pay, long-term care insurance, or veterans benefits may be financial options. Alternatively, Skilled Nursing may be covered by Medicare for a limited time, depending on the specific medical needs of the resident, eliminating some financial burden. If applicable, Brandermill Woods also assists in billing an individual’s Long-Term Care insurance.

How to Choose the Right Level of Care

Choosing between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing is a personal decision that involves assessing current needs, anticipating future requirements, and considering financial implications. If you’ve developed a serious medical condition, you’ll likely need specialized care from a licensed healthcare professional. In this situation, Skilled Nursing is the ideal level for your needs. However, if you simply need a helping hand with everyday tasks, Assisted Living provides the extra assistance you need to keep you healthy, engaged, and living as independently as possible. Consult with your Independent Living community team and family members to gain valuable insights and assist with the decision-making process. 

Get the Level of Care You Need at Brandermill Woods

Independent Living residents needing an extra helping hand receive priority admission to The Chesterfield, Brandermill Woods’ Assisted Living community. Residents receive the bit of additional help and support they need while living as independently as they’re able. Should they eventually need 24/7 medical care, The Haven is our 60-bed licensed Skilled Nursing community. We provide residents with the absolute highest quality of skilled care, 24 hours a day.

Whether you need Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing, the key is to prioritize independence, overall well-being, and a supportive community. At Brandermill Woods, we understand the challenges aging adults face as they navigate changes in their activity levels and desire to retain independence. Our friendly team members ensure every resident receives compassionate care on every level.

Contact us at (804) 744-1173 to learn more about our full continuum of care, including Independent Living, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, and Memory Care.