Skilled Nursing VS Assisted Living – What’s the Difference?

Skilled Nursing VS Assisted Living – What’s the Difference?

You may be at a point in life where you are beginning to search for the right living conditions for yourself or someone you care about. If so, you’ve most likely come across skilled nursing and assisted living options, but what’s the difference? Put simply, the biggest difference between them is who provides care and what level of care they provide.

Both skilled nursing and assisted living facilities offer long term care options for those who can no longer take care of their own basic living needs for an extended period of time like taking medications, meals or good hygiene practices. These care communities provide a wide range of services to their residents like assistance with bathing, ensuring medications are taken properly and on time, housekeeping, planned activities, and so much more.

Basically, assisted living facilities provide residents with around the clock assistance with the requirements of day to day living while still allowing them to do most of these tasks on their own as they are able. Skilled nursing communities, on the other hand, provide nursing care and assistance with most, if not all, day to day activities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

What To Expect in an Assisted Living Community

The purpose of an assisted living community is to provide care to seniors who can no longer safely live at home alone, but do not require the high level of around the clock care that a skilled nursing facility provides. Residents are encouraged to live as independently as possible with assistance provided with day to day activities. These activities can include medication management, dressing, bathing or bathroom assistance with staff always available to help when and where it is needed.

Residents live in private apartment style residences that typically have a living and dining area, a bathroom and small kitchen. They can bring their own furniture and belongings to create a true “at home” living environment. Three balanced and nutritious meals are provided daily, with snacks available 24/7. Large common areas are set up for unlimited opportunities for residents to socialize with others, giving them a true sense of community.

A full calendar of activities is provided to offer residents the opportunity to maintain active social lives and other life enriching activities. Residents have the freedom to set their schedules as they see fit, however. At Elderberry Health Care, we also provide scheduled transportation for medical appointments, shopping excursions and other outings to enable residents to make hair appointments, attend church and more.
Assisted living communities do not provide for medically intensive needs, but most have an in-house physician, physician’s assistant and nurse practitioner on staff.


What To Expect in an Skilled Nursing Community

You can expect to find 24/7 skilled nursing care for those who require specialized medical care or other day to day services that require a skilled care environment. Life in a skilled nursing facility is akin to a long term hospital stay, and can sometimes be only temporary.

Often, skilled nursing services are required for short term stays only following surgery, injury, hospitalization, or other significant health issues that are a result of a heart attack or stroke. The main focus of these short term stays is to provide rehabilitative services with the intent to return the resident to their former independent lifestyle. About 25% of skilled nursing residents will stay three months or less.

For other residents, however, the skilled nursing facility will become their permanent home. They will receive full assistance with all day to day living requirements and around the clock medical care and supervision. Medically intensive care is provided by well qualified, professionally licensed personnel.
Complex medical issues with complete care requirements in need of skilled nursing services can include:
– IV medications
– Ventilator care
– Feeding tube
– Wound care
– Physical, speech and occupational therapies
– Bed sores
End of life care


Residents in skilled care facilities may share a semi-private room, while some have private rooms available. Unless too ill to do so, residents will eat their meals in a shared dining area. As with assisted living communities, daily activities are planned for residents. For those who are too incapacitated to attend group activites, engaging entertainment will be taken to their rooms.

Skilled nursing communities have licensed practical nurses on duty 24 hours a day. They also saff registered nurses and nursing assistants to provide around the clock, compassionate care.

Making the Choice

Making the decision as to which type of living environment is best for you or your loved one can feel stressful and overwhelming, especially if this decision is the direct result of an unexpected event that has made it suddenly necessary. When it is no longer feasible for a person to live independently, you find yourself weighing the options between the two. At the end of the day, the final decision needs to be made based on the type of care the individual requires. Elderberry Health Care provides multiple levels of healthcare services for Transitional Rehabilitation, Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living Care. Contact us today. We are happy to assist you with any questions you may have.