12/4/2012 1:47:00 PM Understanding services provided
at a skilled nursing facility
Nate Oglesby executive director, Mountain Meadows Senior Living
I was recently asked to clarify the services provided in a skilled nursing facility, which formally was known as "a nursing home" and those services provided in an assisted living community. Often, these types of facilities have been stereotyped as a place where seniors end up living out their final days of life. Although this may be true in many instances, these facilities have so much more to offer. I am a firm believer these types of facilities can play a vital role in the quality of life for seniors and have a specific place on the continuum of care. I also wish to go on record saying I strongly support each type of senior care environment and believe the Leavenworth Valley can be thankful to have such facilities readily available and within a 20 mile radius. Many seniors may never experience the need for such a facility, or they may experience either one or both depending on their specific needs.
Nursing Homes today are more commonly known as skilled nursing facilities for their progressive therapies and expertise in both nursing and rehabilitative services. These facilities specialize in the 24-hour care and observation of individuals whose medical needs are usually serious enough to require constant watching by a licensed nurse, under supervision of a physician, but not critical enough to require hospitalization. A skilled nursing facility generally provides the highest level of care for older adults, outside of a hospital. Both skilled care and custodial care are available on site seven days a week with a minimum of eight hours a day provided by a registered nurse. Other medical professionals providing skilled services may be occupational or physical therapists, dietitians, or social workers. Residents often are in a shared occupied room. Custodial care such as bathing, dressing and feeding, grooming and personal hygiene is provided by certified nursing assistants and can range from minimal to complete assistance. Other supportive staff plan and implement different educational and social activities to meet the patient's psycho-social needs. Length of stay can vary from short stays during a subacute illness or rehab therapy to end-of-life depending on the nature of the admission. A certain standard of care is required and closely monitored by regulatory enforcement by Residential Care Services through the Department of Social and Health Services.
An assisted living facility provides services that range somewhere between an independent living community and a skilled nursing facility, in terms of the level of care provided. Many assisted living residents choose to live in this setting so they do not need to individually manage their own home or medications any longer, or simply to have the opportunity for more peer interaction. A resident's condition must be stable and predictable to remain in such a setting. Usually, there is no special medical monitoring equipment on site and licensed nursing staff may not be available at all hours. However, trained care staff is on-site around the clock to provide other needed services. Depending on the needs of the resident, care services can range from minimal supervision to moderate assistance with such care needs as bathing, dressing, personal grooming and hygiene. Residents in this environment may also receive medication oversight, three well-balanced meals daily, weekly housekeeping and laundry services, and daily social activities. Generally, the residents have their own private apartment. A certain standard of care is also required and closely monitored by regulatory enforcement by Residential Care Services through the Department of Social and Health Services.
During my many years of working in senior health care, I have had the opportunity to experience firsthand what these facilities do have to offer. Over the years, these types of facilities have made extensive strides in providing quality care, a safe environment, and an enhanced social interaction to our senior population. I have seen, time and time again, seniors who choose to live in either of these types of environments begin to thrive and actually enjoy their "golden years." A quality facility will tailor and individualize the plan of care to meet the specific needs of each resident.
If either you or a loved one is in need of some type of senior care services, please visit, tour, and educate yourselves on what our Wenatchee Valley has to offer. It is most unfortunate when a senior is not prepared or educated on the different services offered. Often, as a result, a senior will bypass the assisted living environment completely or end up directly in a skilled nursing facility. By planning a head, a thoughtful choice can be made about the assisted living or skilled nursing facility which best meets the individual's need rather than a rapid choice being made based on which facility can actually facilitate or has an opening.