What is a skilled nursing facility (SNF)?

A skilled nursing facility (SNF) is an inpatient facility type that provides short- or long-term rehabilitation services to senior patients. These facilities provide 24-hour medical support to patients requiring transitional care following a qualifying hospital stay for illness, injury, or surgery.

Skilled nursing facilities employ a wide variety of medical professionals—including nurse practitioners (NPs), registered nurses (RNs), licensed practical nurses (LPNs), certified nurses’ aides (CNAs), speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and physical therapists. The services that these professionals offer can include any of the following:

  • Medication management
  • Assistance with daily living activities
  • Meal preparation and dietary counseling
  • Wound care
  • Physical, occupational, and/or speech therapy
  • Cardiac rehabilitation
  • Post-stroke rehabilitation

Why are skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) important in healthcare?

Skilled nursing facilities provide important post-discharge care to elderly patients who might require additional support following their inpatient hospital stay. Without the care that these facilities provide, patients may be at risk of facing post-discharge complications and hospital readmission.

The primary goal of skilled nursing facilities is to assist patients in their recovery process so that they can safely return home. Because of this, most patients are covered by their insurance for short-term inpatient stays. Medicare beneficiaries are covered for up to 100 days in a skilled nursing facility and face out-of-pocket costs for each additional day they spend in SNF care.

Skilled nursing facilities help to ensure that patients are receiving the highest quality of care and, in reducing the rate of complication, also help to control associated healthcare costs.