What’s the Difference?

vs-assisted-livingSkilled care center? Assisted living? What’s the difference? Making the decision to move from home can be overwhelming. Let’s work through the details:

The biggest and most important difference is that nursing homes — also called skilled nursing facilities — are licensed and equipped to deliver skilled medical care. They offer the attention and care of a professionally trained medical staff, combined with the comforts of home.

Licensed doctors and nurses supervise the care of every patient. Medications are carefully administered by professional staff and are reviewed by physicians and pharmacists. At Columbia Basin Care, even nursing assistants — who help residents with daily activities such as eating, bathing, grooming, dressing, transferring, and toileting — are licensed and work under the direction of a licensed nurse. CNAs must undergo a minimum of 150 hours of state-approved training, including training in a clinical environment. Candidates must then pass the Oregon Nursing Assistant Competency Exam, consisting of a written exam and a test of manual skills.

An assisted living facility is not licensed to give nursing care and not licensed by Medicare or Medicaid to give skilled care. Many assisted living facilities do not have any licensed nurse on staff. Because they are considered non-medical facilities, in some states having a licensed nurse is not required by law. Even if a nurse is employed by the assisted living facility, the nurse cannot give hands-on care in the form of dressing a wound, administering around-the-clock insulin, administering oxygen, or other tasks that are defined by the federal and state governments as “skilled nursing care.”

Typically, assisted living facilities are places where elderly adults live in a supervised community, with some personal care services available. Meals and social activities are offered and in these communities the focus is on providing a healthy social environment and preventing residents from becoming socially isolated.

Skilled nursing facilities, however, comply with numerous complex legal regulations and requirements and are closely monitored by the State Department of Health. Assisted living facilities do not have the same safety or administrative requirements as a skilled nursing facility, and they are prohibited from giving care they are not licensed to give.

A frequent misconception is that skilled nursing facilities are a “last stop.” In fact, the opposite is often true; many go to a nursing home for short-term therapy services after surgery, injury, or illness. At a skilled nursing facility, such as Columbia Basin Care, a licensed team of physical, occupational and speech therapists provide comprehensive rehabilitation services. Patients recuperate under the care and attention of medical professionals and once recovered, return to their homes.

Columbia Basin Care, located in The Dalles, is the region’s only non-profit, community-owned, skilled rehabilitation and nursing facility. CBC offers an in-house geriatric nurse practitioner who serves as primary care physician, and a team of licensed physical, occupational and speech therapists who provide comprehensive rehabilitation services.

Columbia Basin Care is located in the Columbia River Gorge, in The Dalles, 1015 Webber St., 541-296-2156.