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Men and women who have fallen ill or incurred injuries often require a hospital stay to recover before safely returning home. However, some patients may need more than just a couple of days to rehabilitate or do not feel safe transitioning home from the hospital due to the extent of their illness or the lack of support at home.

This is where skilled nursing services come into play. In this article, we are going to provide an introduction for skilled nursing facilities and answers to frequently-asked questions by prospective patients and/or their family members or caregivers.


  • A skilled nursing facility (SNF) or skilled nursing rehabilitation center (SNRC) is a 24-hour healthcare facility that acts as a transitional care unit between the hospital and a person’s home. Some hospital patients and their family members may feel uncomfortable discharging home from the hospital for the following reasons:
    Unsafe home environment to support current health conditions
  • Lack of social support at home
  • The patient’s health condition doesn’t require hospital care, but the patient is not safe at home.

Here’s an example:

Cynthia is a 58 year old female patient who just underwent a Right side total hip replacement and is having a single overnight stay at the hospital. Cynthia lives alone in a second-story apartment and is concerned about going home right away. The patient has to scale a full set of stairs and her closest family lives 3 states away. She also has a history of falls resulting in injury due to living with multiple sclerosis for 20 years. For these reasons, her doctor is recommending a two-week stay at a skilled nursing facility for further rehabilitation.

Patients are permitted to stay overnight for a specific timeframe as ordered by a primary physician. That timeframe is determined by the patient’s medical condition, their recommended rehabilitation period, and their available medical insurance coverage.

Patients are generally admitted to skilled nursing facilities after a short inpatient stay at the hospital. In order to be admitted to skilled nursing, patients require a referral from their overseeing physicians. Once the order is received, patients and their family members must fill out the admissions paperwork which will help the facility determine if the patient is a good fit for their level of care. Once the admission requirements have been met and the patient has been accepted, the patient and their family begin filling out the contract work.

The overall cost of stays at skilled nursing facilities varies depending on the company, the state or location, and the services utilized. On average, one room at skilled nursing costs approximately $300 per day or almost $9,000 per month.

However, rarely are patients expected to pay the full cost of medical services, room, and board out-of-pocket. In most cases, patients are referred to skilled nursing and then select a facility based on whether their insurance policy will cover it or not.

Skilled nursing is typically covered by medical insurance, either in part or in full. Medicare and Medicaid have details written in all of their available policies regarding services that are covered in skilled nursing and the duration in which they will cover those services.

For example, a patient may be referred to skilled nursing to receive rehabilitation for a 60-day period by a primary physician but then Medicare would need to go through their approval process to confirm coverage for that medically ordered period. If a patient has not met their rehabilitative goals within 60 days, then rehabilitative specialists in skilled nursing would need to recertify the need for additional time. That recertification is signed by the doctor and then goes through the insurance approval process again.

There are numerous services available at skilled nursing facilities. Patients may use some or all of these services based on their medical needs:

  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech pathology
  • Recreational therapy
  • Respiratory therapy
  • Nursing
  • CNA services
  • Housekeeping and maintenance
  • Nutrition
  • Social work/case management
  • Transportation services
  • Psychology and counseling
  • Wound care

All team members work together under a format called interdisciplinary teamwork. The patient and/or family take the lead on the team and all other disciplines work together collaboratively to create an optimal care plan to meet the patient’s rehabilitative and medical goals.

In some skilled nursing facilities, there are additional services available to create a more pleasant stay. This could include:

  • Religious services
  • Weekly games
  • Arts and crafts
  • Salon services
  • Community outings
  • Music or singing time
  • Volunteer performance nights

Services and amenities are provided based on the facility and their staffing availability.

Medically licensed staff members remain onsite 24/7. This includes nursing staff such as practitioners, registered nurses, respiratory specialists, and CNAs to help perform medical and personal support services. During the 8-5 workday, other staff members are available including rehabilitative staff, social work, psychological services and counseling, wound care, volunteers, recreational staff, and nutritional staff.

All skilled nursing rooms generally come furnished with beds, nightstands, and additional seated furniture for guests and staff. Since skilled nursing is considered temporary and transitional care, patients shouldn’t expect to bring in a ton of their personal belongings. Some items are encouraged including those with sentimental value. Some items may be prohibited if they are considered a fire or an electrical hazard (personal hair dryers, curlers, heated blankets). Each prospective patient should consult with staff to determine what they are allowed to bring in prior to making the transition.

Skilled nursing services are usually suggested after a patient is already at the hospital for an inpatient stay. Family members or medical staff may notice some safety challenges with moving a patient from the hospital directly home, so transitional care offers the patient an opportunity to get stronger and healthier before returning to normal life. Here’s a little more on Cynthia’s story:

Cynthia is ordered for a two-week stay to rehabilitate her hip after surgery. Some of her goals include walking safely with her cane, showering herself without falling in the bathroom, and dressing herself without re-injuring her hip. Cynthia participates in physical and occupational therapy daily and has nursing staff tend to her incisions regularly to monitor any signs of infection.

Many of Cynthia’s goals may have been assessed at the hospital, but since hospital stays are getting shorter and shorter, there is very little time for rehabilitative staff to help Cynthia meet her goals. This is where skilled nursing comes into the picture to allow her more time to heal and to complete her self-care activities independently.

If a patient is transitioning from a hospital stay to skilled nursing, their inpatient medical staff typically work with them and their family members to provide them with available facility options. However, patients and family members can be proactive and select a facility based on their own preferences and needs. Here are some questions you can ask when evaluating a facility for you or a loved one:

  • Will my medical insurance policy cover the stay?
  • How have past patients rated their stay at this facility?
  • Is the facility close enough for family members and friends to visit?
  • What is security like at the facility?
  • What is the staff per patient ratio?
  • What are transportation services like?
  • What is the visitor’s policy and schedule like?
  • What type of services will I receive there?
  • What is the food like?
  • Does this facility have some fun services and amenities that I’d enjoy?

If possible, patients and their family members can sometimes tour the facility and meet staff members prior to committing to a stay.

Skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) provide transitional medical and rehabilitative care and provides patients and their family members with some extra time when they’re feeling apprehensive about returning home after a bout of illness or injury. Patients and their loved ones are encouraged to do their own research and explore their options to see which facility meets their unique needs.

Words From Our Clients

Ron Ziebell
Ron Ziebell
November 1, 2021.
Second home did a great job of searching for several months for me. My mom‘s budget was pretty low but they searched and searched and finally found her a place although it was quite a ways outside of our area we were still very happy we found a place for her. Although it didn’t work out my brother and I increased her budget and I needed a new place in a hurry and second home found a place in Long Beach close to us that lowered their rates to meet our new budget. We are extremely happy with the new assistant living place she’s at with the memory care unit she needed desperately. Thank you guys for all your hard work! Ron Ziebell
Mike Grant
Mike Grant
August 12, 2021.
Second Home helped me with Alzheimer's care placement of my Father who just couldn't live safely at home with my Mother. Speaking with Erika put my mind at ease at making this tough decision as I never thought I would need to move my Father to a facility. She compared herself to a real estate agent, but for seniors, which is completely true! She guided me on different options and rates and even set me up with tours the very next day. I was always in the loop and she checked in with me each day to see how things were going/if I had any questions. Highly recommend Second Home!
Linda Koire
Linda Koire
August 1, 2021.
Second Home is and has been the most reliable business I have ever worked with. I got acquainted with them several years ago when I was searching for an assisted living facility for my brother. The compassion they showed, the knowledge they had of the industry was overwhelming. That was approximately ten years ago and my brother resides at the facility they recommended to this day. Just two weeks ago my 93 year old mother needed to be relocated as her condition worsened. I reached out to Second Home again, (??) in hopes they could help. Once again, in a matter of a few days Mike was able to locate the perfect place for Mom considering her current condition and my issue was solved! ♥️ Thank u, thank u to all the wonderful caring team at Second Home! Sincerely, Linda Koire Ojai, CA.
Neal Kerr
Neal Kerr
May 22, 2021.
I just want to say thank you to mike and his team for helping my family get my grandmother into an amazing home. We appreciate you all so much.
Heather Cohen
Heather Cohen
April 17, 2021.
This is the go-to resource for your senior loved ones housing. The company is professional and reliable. They develop a relationship with their clients that allows them to understand your needs and what your looking for in your budget! I was so happy I went with Second Home!
Amanda Joy Gilbert
Amanda Joy Gilbert
April 17, 2021.
I am so grateful for Second Homes! I am so stressed out with circumstances and they were so helpful. They had showed me so many resources and helped guide me to what would work beat for our family. My grandmother is now in a beautiful place. Thank you again Second Homes Seniors!
Linda Flores
Linda Flores
November 16, 2020.
I started looking for a care home for my mom on my own in the Torrance are of California. It was quite daunting since there is no comprehensive lists of care homes anywhere. A friend happened to provide me Justin's number so I called him, not really realizing what he did. Second Home has listings of care homes and can help you find the right one. This was a real godsend to me. I gave him mom's history, my price range and I had a list of 8 homes to contact within 24 hours. Plus I got other emails directly from other care homes. We interviewed 6, went to 4 and we then finalized our pick. Mom has been in her new home now for 2 weeks and is starting to thrive. Coming from a nursing home environment that treated her like a number, she is now in a home with only a few other residents and getting lots of attention. She lost 20 pounds at the nursing home. Now that she is in a real home that cooks homemade meals, her appetite has come back and she is looking and doing great and is positive about the future. This was the best thing we ever did for her and I could not have done it without Second Home. I am forever grateful for their help finding a wonderful home for my mother.
pearl laraneta
pearl laraneta
November 12, 2019.
First of all Justin Acuna is the best! My father is currently living with us, he is 88 years old! Justin calls me every couple of months to check in on us! I feel relieved and secure should anything change I can call Justin and he will help place my father into a wonderful, loving home. Thank for being there!
luz romero
luz romero
October 25, 2019.
Justin and the Second Home team were so supportive in assisting with finding the most suitable home for my mother. They were in constant contact with us during the home visits and selection process. Their compassion and professionalism is very much appreciated.
michelle wentz
michelle wentz
January 14, 2018.
Very helpful navigating a very difficult time. Our questions were answered honestly and thoroughly and with compassion and understanding. Defiantly recommend them for a great source of wealth and information.