hospitalMaybe you’re in the hospital for a knee replacement or a heart attack. Before you head home, your case manager may recommend a stay in a Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) so you can get more stable, stronger and transition safely. If you or a family member has never needed the services of an SNF before, you probably don’t know much about them, but at that point, you unfortunately won’t have much time to learn!

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That’s why we’ve asked Tara Edwards, director of marketing and admissions at Signature HealthCARE of Chapel Hill, to fill us in on what you’ll need to know in advance of when you need to know it.

SG: Will someone at the hospital provide you with SNF options?

TE: Your case manager will send you and your family a list of facilities in the area that meet your needs. We encourage families to tour facilities before making a decision so there are no surprises. Also, on a tour, you can ask residents about the care, food, activities and overall how they like it.

SG: How quickly do you have to decide on a facility?

TE: Typically you’ll only have 24 to 48 hours.

SG: What factors should you consider when making your decision?

TE: First and foremost, the facility’s Medicare rating, which is based on its state survey history, staffing and quality measures. Then determine if a bed is currently available, and if you or your loved one could need long-term care, whether that’s a possibility. Also confirm that the facility takes your insurance, how close it’s located to people who want to visit, the cleanliness of the facility and activities available to patients.

SG: Are all SNFs covered by Medicare?

TE: No, not all; Medicare is a voluntary program. However most SNFs are aware of the value of Medicare coverage and will also have plenty of literature and people on staff to help you understand specific coverage.

SG: If you don’t like the SNF you choose, can you switch after you’ve been admitted?

TE: You do have the right to make a change at any time.  If you want to move to a new facility, you’ll need to inform the Social Services director so they can send your information to the new SNF. That facility will then let you know if they will accept your case.

Share your experiences with finding a new Skilled Nursing Facility after being discharged from the hospital.

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