skilled nursingWhen you’re in the hospital, all you can think about is getting back home.
So when the discharge planner suggests a short-term stay at a Skilled Nursing Facility, it probably feels like a detour to you. But the truth of the matter is that this pit stop can often be the most direct route to your recovery.

What’s the benefit?
“Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) are designed to help the patient get from nursing care or therapy back home as quickly as possible and be safe once they get home,” explains Julie Reed, regional director of community relations for Miller’s Merry Manor, a part of Miller’s Health Systems, Inc., which operates locations across Indiana.

Generally, your stay at a SNF will be short-term. However, while you’re there, you’ll receive more intensive therapy than you would in an outpatient setting, plus the benefit of 24-hour medical and custodial care. Compared to being on your own at home, this support system allows you to focus all of your energy on getting better, which can mean a faster recuperation that’s also less subject to setbacks. SNFs are also an important component of Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs). If you’re looking for independent or assisted living, it can be beneficial to look for a community that also offers skilled nursing. “As residents’ needs change, they can stay with American Senior Communities …,” says Dan Benson, COO of American Senior Communities, which offers this continuum of care through either its CCRCs or by partnering with a sister American Senior Communities location nearby. “We want them (residents) to feel that this is their home for as long as they choose.

How to pick the right one?
If you know that you may need the services of a SNF, start researching facilities in advance. Ask friends and relatives for recommendations. Then visit facilities to make sure they are clean, residents appear well cared for and staff is friendly and helpful. Also be sure to talk to both residents and staff to get a feel for what life is really like there.

Do your homework
Determine which facility is best equipped to handle your particular needs.

While you’ll find skilled nursing care and a range of therapy services at all SNFs, more specialized care may vary. Miller’s Merry Manor, for example, has wound care physicians who visit the facility. Many communities also offer memory care, should you need it now or down the road. “We are very, very attentive to people’s needs,” notes Tim McCurdy, director of marketing of the Indiana Masonic Home, a CCRC in Franklin, which provides memory care. “We are proactive and consider what residents may need in advance.”

Learn about the plan for your therapy.

When will you be seen for the first time and how often will you be seen over the course of your stay? How will the facility communicate with your physician?

Evaluate the quality of the staff.

Because Miller’s Merry Manor is 100 percent employee owned, Reed says, “Employees feel the success of the resident’s stay is up to them.” But of course, Miller’s Merry Manor isn’t the only senior community that believes they have the best people working for them. “Being the largest provider of senior housing and healthcare in the state makes us attractive to the best and the brightest professionals in the field,” explains Benson of American Senior Communities, which has 59 Indiana locations (and one in West Virginia). That’s why it’s important to do your homework and decide for yourself.

Find the facility that’s also the best fit for you personally.

At the Indiana Masonic Home, you can share a bond with fellow Masons and members of the Order of the Eastern Star (Masonic affiliation or sponsorship is only a requirement for independent and assisted living). You should also ask about the menu, activities, visiting hours, availability of private rooms, and other factors that could factor into your decision.

What’s the cost?
After you determine that your SNF of choice is Medicare certified, here’s a snapshot of your financial obligations:

Day 1-Day 20: Covered by Medicare at 100 percent. (To qualify for Medicare coverage, a three-night, inpatient hospital stay is required and you must enter the facility within 30 days of your hospitalization.)*

Day 21-100: Copay of $141.50 per day. Copays may be covered by private insurance or Medicaid (if you qualify).

After Day 100: Private pay or covered by Medicaid (if you qualify).

Being prepared for a SNF stay means you won’t make a hasty – and possibly unwise – decision. Plus, it puts you that much closer to getting back home!

*For all of Medicare’s requirements, see “Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility Care,” published by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan, coverage may vary.

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