What is the Difference Between Skilled Nursing and Assisted Living?

Senior Living
Differences between assisted living and skilled nursing 2

Posted: September 18, 2023

When considering a senior living community for a loved one who is in need of additional care, it’s important to make an informed decision based on the individual’s health and the services a community can provide. Though it may feel that there is not a “right time” to move to a senior living community to seek additional support, being informed and prepared can help you avoid making a decision or a move during a crisis. Understanding the difference between assisted living and skilled nursing care is a helpful place to start.

The Difference Between Assisted Living and Skilled Nursing Care

There are many different types of specialized care for older adults. Sometimes people use the terms “assisted living” and “skilled nursing care” interchangeably, but they are two very different things.

Assisted living and skilled nursing at Clermont Park

Assisted Living Communities

Assisted living communities provide residents with a customized level of care that is primarily focused on activities of daily living (ADLs). These can include activities such as eating, medication reminders, and personal hygiene. Residents of assisted living communities do not need around-the-clock nursing care. Most of these communities cannot treat individuals who need wound care, medical monitoring, or therapy. 

Assisted living communities closely resemble apartment communities in that they offer different floor plans, various amenities, and proximity to surrounding neighborhoods full of things for residents to do. Due to the focus on connection, these communities are often driven by resident-led enrichment programs that promote autonomy, choice, and whole-person wellness.


Skilled Nursing Communities

Skilled nursing communities provide care or treatment that can only be performed by licensed professionals. The staff at a skilled nursing community typically includes a medical director or Director of Nursing, registered nurses (RNs) and licensed professional nurses (LPNs), and other licensed therapists. Skilled nursing care might be needed short- or long-term, but while residents are there, they need care around the clock. This is the most significant difference between skilled nursing and assisted living. 

Long-Term Care

Skilled nursing communities such as Clermont Park can provide a wide range of services and long-term medical care, such as wound care, intravenous (IV) therapy, injection administration, and monitoring of vital signs and medical equipment. A skilled nursing community can also provide the rehabilitation services your loved one needs, including physical, occupational and speech therapy. At skilled nursing communities, residents typically have custom care plans created for them that guide their treatment and day-to-day.

Some residents may have had home care support prior to joining a skilled nursing community, but their condition has progressed in such a way that their family or caregiver can no longer care for their needs.

Differences between skilled nursing and assisted livingShort-Term Rehabilitation

Alternatively, guests often come to skilled nursing communities for rehabilitation after a hospital stay and will only be there until they have recovered enough to go home. A skilled nursing community in this case serves as a great middle ground between the hospital and their home.


What Should You Look for When Considering an Assisted Living or Skilled Nursing Community?

Whether you are looking for a skilled nursing or assisted living community, there are lots of options and factors to consider. Luckily, many communities take a similar approach as Clermont Park, providing a comprehensive continuum of care should one’s needs change over time.

Consider the following tips when beginning your search for an assisted living or skilled nursing community:

  • Make sure the community provides the care that is needed and that any special services needed, such as memory support or special therapies, are available.
  • Ask about staff training and turnover, staff-to-resident ratios, and if there is an RN or Director of Nursing in the community at all times.
  • Ask about meals. Find out if there is a dietician on staff to ensure that residents will be getting balanced meals, especially if special dietary accommodations are needed.
  • Ask about life enrichment programming and activities to discover how the community supports residents in staying active and engaged, and how programming is developed.  
  • Learn more about the location and neighborhood. For some, it’s preferable for the community to be close to family, friends, and preferred doctors. For others, the location in relation to outdoor activities and excursions might be a draw.
  • Ask about licensing and industry ratings, and read testimonials. Both skilled nursing care communities and assisted living communities must have the required state licenses available for you to see. How is the community rated by industry professionals? What do current or past residents, guests, and family members have to say about their experiences?
  • For skilled nursing communities specifically, ask about insurance and medicare coverage. Medicare generally does not pay for long-term skilled nursing care, but may cover short-term care during recovery or if treatment methods are prescribed by a doctor. 


Do Your Homework and Take a Tour

The Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) has a variety of resources for consumers – as does Medicare.gov – to assist you in comparing various senior living communities. Follow the community on social media to get a feel for what life in the community is like and read reviews if you can find them online.

Finally, before making a decision, take a personalized tour of the community, including apartments, dining areas, outside spaces, and other shared spaces. One of the most important considerations in choosing a senior living community is the way you feel when you’re there. A personal tour provides invaluable insight into community life and an opportunity to envision one’s own life in the community. 

Navigating the decision making process to find the right level of care and the right community is a difficult one. We are here to help! Contact us today to learn more about purpose-filled assisted living and skilled nursing at Clermont Park.

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Clermont Park Senior Living Community is managed by Christian Living Communities and is a full service life plan community. We offer Independent Living, Assisted Living, Memory Care as well as Skilled Nursing, Rehabilitation and Adult Day. Clermont Park Senior Living Community is located in Denver, Colorado and services the areas in and around University Hills, University Park, South Denver, Englewood, Southmoor Park, Cherry Hills Village, Edgewater, Wheat Ridge, Lakewood, Aurora, Greenwood Village, Applewood, Littleton, Centennial, and Highlands Ranch. We also are an ideal senior community for those in the zip codes 80222, 80224, 80246, 80209, 80210, 80113, 80237, 80121, 80111, 80223, and 80112.

A Neighborhood of Christian Living Communities

Clermont Park Life Plan Community adheres to all regulations as written in the Americans with Disabilities Act and The Fair Housing Act and accordingly prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, familial status, disability (whether it be mental or physical), or sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation).