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5 Questions to Ask When Given a Skilled Nursing Facility Referral List

Often times, a stay in a skilled nursing facility comes unexpectedly, as does an illness or an injury. Many people are discharged to a skilled nursing facility or SNF directly after a hospitalization. The purpose of a stay at a skilled nursing facility is to provide further care and rehabilitation to people that aren’t quite ready to go home yet. Hopefully the stay will be productive and brief. It is important to know that you or your loved ones helping you make a decision about where to go can give input and have the final say about which SNF to be transferred to. This article will discuss how patients may get transferred to various facilities and 5 important questions to ask a discharge planner when choosing a skilled nursing facility.

Networks and lists

Hospital discharge planners may present you with a list of “approved” skilled nursing facilities to choose from. How this list was generated and how the places got on that list is anyone’s guess, as is who approved them. The truth is that just because a name of a facility is on the list, does not necessarily make that facility better than one that is not. In fact, there are foundations and other networks that have poorly rated SNF’s on their lists. Discharge planners are there to help, but they may also have other requirements they need to meet as part of their jobs. That being said, it is important to be involved in this important decision if at all possible. Do some research and ask specific questions before agreeing to be transferred to a place you know very little about.

5 Questions to Ask

Learning that a stay in a stay in a skilled nursing facility is forthcoming can be nerve wracking and stressful. It is a big change in routine and comfort level.  To help alleviate some stress, ask questions beginning with the ones listed below to put your mind at ease. This is a start, and you may have more. Don’t be afraid to speak up and discuss this with your doctor and hospital discharge planner. They are there for that reason.

  1. How has this Skilled Nursing Facility been rated in the past?
  2. Will Medicare and my secondary insurance cover my stay?
  3. What is the average length of stay I can expect at this facility, and how will my rehab fit in with that length of stay?
  4. Have there been any legal issues, complaints, or violations against this SNF?
  5. How many beds are filled and how many staff are available at any given time?

Getting real answers to your questions will help the transition immensely. You will know from the onset what to expect. More importantly, remember that if the facilities on the list that the discharge planner presents does not meet your needs, you can choose to go somewhere else. You are not bound by anything to select one that is presented to you. You have the final say.

Be an advocate

As discussed above, every individual can decide for themselves which skilled nursing facility best meets their needs. By asking questions, talking to others, and doing some research, you can figure out where you will be most comfortable. To reiterate, hospitals will have a network of SNF’s that they refer to on a regular basis. The facilities may be good and may not be, but asking questions and having them answered to your satisfaction will help determine that. Advocate for yourself or your loved ones. Hospitals are helpful, but you know yourself and your family best. Making informed, educated decisions about your care and rehabilitation will put you on a less stressful and more productive path to rehabilitation, and help you achieve your ultimate goal of returning to your everyday life!