Nursing Homes

6/3/2020 | By Rachel Marsh

Post-surgery rehabilitation; intensive care after a stroke; healing from a major fall: when a patient needs a place to bounce back – a place of recovery, rehabilitation, and recuperation – a skilled nursing center may just be the best fit.

Generally, a skilled nursing center indicates an in-patient rehab facility stocked around the clock with trained medical professionals.

Patients enter a skilled nursing center for a variety of health needs and medical events, such as illness, injury, or even elective surgery. Stays are usually short-term, and patients are generally only admitted when prescribed by a doctor. Long-term care is also offered, however, for those with a chronic medical condition – for example.


Treatments in a skilled nursing center are provided by licensed medical professionals, such as physicians, nurses, and physical therapists; care often includes – but is not limited to – wound care, IV care, and physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Treatment plans vary on a case-by-case basis, but are tailored to help each patient gain as much independence back as possible before discharge.

Just Like a Nursing Home …?

Though many lump the term “skilled nursing center” in with “nursing home,” the two are in fact separate entities.

A nursing home, or more commonly referred to as a “skilled nursing home” or “skilled nursing facility,” is a living community for seniors. Residents receive assistance with all daily needs and activities, plus around-the-clock medical care as required.

They are generally a more permanent solution for seniors who, for one reason or another, are no longer able to live on their own. Skilled nursing centers, on the other hand, are usually treated as a more short-term program.


Skilled nursing care can be provided in its own standalone building. However, some centers may be attached to a larger community – for example, a branch off of an assisted living community or part of a continuing care retirement community.

In some cases, however, licensed nurses or therapists can offer skilled nursing care directly in a patient’s own residence – whether in a home or a type of retirement community. In-home services may be provided on a case-by-case basis, but are often beneficial to a patient while they are able heal and gain independence in their own space.

Routine …

In general, skilled nursing centers focus on intensive, short-term care: the goal, ultimately, is to get the patient back to an independent lifestyle. Because of this, a structured routine is a vital part of every patient’s stay. A daily schedule is also important to keep patients’ days as similar to home life as possible.

Medical staff will begin the day by helping patients – as needed – with bathing, dressing, grooming, and any other ADLs (activities of daily living). After breakfast, patients will begin their prescribed sessions, which often consist of physical, speech, or occupational therapy – or a mixture of the three.

These vary in intensity and quality, but are catered to each individual to help rebuild skills such as strength, coordination, and balance.

… Recuperation …

Meals are offered onsite, and many centers provide a variety of dining options to suit individual patients. Often in a skilled nursing community, there are registered dieticians available to help plan meals based on dietary needs and restrictions.

Additionally, most skilled nursing centers were designed with rehab patients in mind, so special accommodations – like railings on every wall and handicap accessibility everywhere – can be seen throughout the building.

Otherwise, centers are similar to many other senior-focused communities. There are generally single or shared bedrooms with a private bath, along with multiple communal spaces: dining rooms, community areas, and outdoor gardens. Centers may even offer onsite amenities such as salons or cafés.

… Recovery …

While treatment and rehabilitation are the main focal points of a skilled nursing center, centers also aim to make their patients feel as welcome and comfortable as possible. Often rooms and common spaces are decorated and designed to feel less like an institution and more like a second home. Comfort, after all, is another vital factor in the road to recovery; especially if a guest is staying for an extended period of time.

Danna Owen, director of admissions and marketing at South Roanoke Nursing Home confirms, stating, “We are focused on creating a comfortable and nurturing environment while providing the best care available to our patients.”

… Rehabilitation …

When a patient enters a skilled nursing center, they are set up with a personalized rehabilitation plan. There are no cookie-cutter formulas, and patients don’t all receive the same treatment: each guest is set up with a care plan tailored towards their specific wellness goals. Medical staff treat each patient according to their needs, and daily routines are similarly customized to help guests with their own goals.

In addition to daytime medical staff, skilled nursing centers also feature around-the-clock care; healthcare aides are available 24/7 for any emergency or medical need that may arise.

… And Rest!

But – although the days at a skilled nursing center are filled with therapy and rehabilitation, the schedules allow for plenty of time to rest.

Staff want the patients to remain comfortable, with recuperation time for their physical, mental, and emotional health. Visitors are also welcome, typically in the evening time. And centers provide low-key activities, like puzzles and movies – activities patients may have enjoyed at home.


The intensive setting and nature of skilled nursing centers help patients make quicker, stronger recoveries after an illness or injury. One of the biggest factors toward success? A center’s specialized onsite technology.

Many centers are filled with up-to-date equipment catered specifically to the needs of skilled nursing rehabilitation patients. For example, fitness centers may contain exercise machines designed exclusively for physical therapy patients to help them build their daily skills – strength, coordination, balance – so they can get back to their normal lives even faster.

The Care of Robots?

Digital and robotic technology is also spreading success in the skilled nursing world. Measuring progress in stroke and neurological disorder patients, for example, is becoming much more accurate with the help of advanced gait analysis and video monitoring technology.

Additionally, robotic and other advanced prosthetics are taking over for walking implements like crutches. Bionics, for example – wearable devices that provide assistance with movements like walking and getting up – are very effective tools for therapy like stroke rehabilitation.

Even simple technology such as smartphones make progress quicker and more effective, featuring apps that can do things like measure growth and strength, design goals, and even create workouts.


If you have the luxury, it’s always beneficial to shop around to different skilled nursing centers before settling for a particular one. Certain centers may suit a patient’s needs more appropriately than others, and choosing the best fit for you (or your loved one) can ensure the best results.

Reputation. If possible, through online reviews or friends’ experiences, determine if former patients have had positive experiences with a particular facility. Find out how high the success rate is for individuals, compared to how many end up back in the hospital. Another consideration: if the facility has had much experience or success with the particular case in question. For example, some centers may cater towards stroke recovery while other may specialize in hip replacement rehabilitation.

Location. A facility location is important to consider, especially when considering potential visitors.

Staff-to-Patient Ratio. An appropriate and adequate amount of medical staff in relation to the number of patients is generally aligned with the success that guests receive. Says Danna Owen, “Our patient to staff ratio sets us apart. No other facility in the Roanoke Valley can surpass our care team! Unlike larger facilities, South Roanoke is a small facility where everyone is treated as family!”

Rachel Marsh

Award-winning writer Rachel Marsh has written for many different sites and publications on a variety of topics. She is the multimedia editor for Seniors Guide and works hard to make sure seniors and their families have the best information possible. When she’s not writing for work, she can be found writing for fun. Really!

Rachel Marsh