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When A Loved One Needs a Skilled Nursing Facility
by Trish Hughes Kreis
My brother recently needed to stay in a
skilled nursing facility (SNF) for two months.
My brother. Not my mother. Not my father.
Not my Great Aunt Josie (not that I actually
have a Great Aunt Josie). My
Robert is disabled due to uncontrolled epilepsy.
That’s not exactly why he needed to stay in a
skilled nursing facility, however. The short
version is Robert kept getting serious staph
infections after an epilepsy-related surgery and
was going to require a six week course of
intravenous antibiotics. This is where the
skilled nursing facility came in.
This experience was, for me, a crash course in
the language of skilled nursing, residential
care and all the medical jargon you can imagine.
Of course, Robert’s not the first person to
enter a SNF nor will he be the last.
Robert may be unusual as far as the age range of
the population at SNFs, but the population in
general keeps getting older and many of us or
our loved ones will require skilled nursing care
at some point in our lives.
My crash course involved figuring out how
Robert can be a good patient, how I can be a
good visitor and how the SNF can be a good
caregiver. The good people at the skilled
nursing facility with which I am familiar helped
me create this list, but it certainly could
apply at all SNFs. As one administrator
said, “Good outcomes only occur when there is
communication and partnership to the care.”
Realistically help manage your pain
If you felt well, you wouldn’t be in a SNF.
People go to SNFs to recover from knee or hip
replacement surgery, to receive i/v antibiotics,
to transition from intense hospital care to a
slightly lower level of nursing care and,
hopefully, eventually back to home or to a
residential care facility. Many times,
patients are in pain and require pain
medication. One guideline for patients is
to help the doctors and nurses manage the pain
effectively. Don’t cry wolf by asking
every ten minutes for more pain pills.
Work with the doctor to be sure the dose is
adequate for the pain and there is a plan for