Skilled Nursing Facilities

A number of different terms, including "convalescent hospitals," "nursing homes," "rehabilitation centers" or "skilled nursing facilities" are used to describe facilities that are formally referred to in California as skilled nursing facilities (SNFs).

A SNF is required to provide 24-hour skilled nursing care, as well as related or rehabilitative services. The typical resident is a person who is chronically ill or recuperating from an illness or surgery and needs regular nursing care and other health related services. Residents in SNFs are under the care of their personal physician or the facilities’ medical director. Each resident must have an individual plan of care developed by the physician, resident (or his/her representative) and facility staff. These facilities provide a protective environment with medical and social services for individuals whose care needs cannot be met at home or in a residential care setting.

Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF)

SNF General Services

SNFs provide 24-hour care to residents whose primary need is for availability of skilled nursing care on an extended basis. In addition, SNFs provide:

  • Dietary services
  • Social services
  • Pharmaceutical services
  • Recreational therapy services
  • Access to dental care
  • Emphasis on rehabilitation, such as gait training and bowel and bladder training
  • Specialized units for dementia residents
  • Administration of potent injectable medications and intravenous medications and solutions on a regular basis

SNFs may also provide ancillary services such as, physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

Distinct Part Facility

A Distinct Part Facility is a SNF that specializes in serving individuals who require skilled nursing and rehabilitative services on a 24-hour basis. A Distinct Part SNF is often housed within a hospital or on the same grounds as a hospital. Hospital residents may be transferred to the Distinct Part Facility when their care needs transition from primarily needing "acute" to needing "post-acute" skilled nursing and more intensive rehabilitative services. Residents in this type of facility may be recovering from a surgery or from an acute illness or injury. Most residents stay a short time, usually a maximum of three weeks, and then are discharged to either a SNF or back to their own home. A Distinct Part Facility provides the same services as a SNF as well as treatment for acute illness or injury and intensive rehabilitation services.

SNFs Hospice Services

Hospice services are provided to individuals in many care settings, ranging from one’s own home or apartment, to a residential care facility (if the facility has approval from the California Department of Social Service), congregate living facility or skilled nursing facility. SNFs provide hospice care via an inter-disciplinary team that may include a doctor, nurse, social worker, spiritual counselor, as well as other professionals and volunteers.

State Oversight

The California Department of Public Health, Licensing and Certification Division, with district offices throughout the State, is responsible for licensing SNFs and providing facility inspections to ensure compliance with licensing standards.

Click here to find SNFs in your area and to see the State’s most recent inspection of these facilities.

Click here for more information about SNFs and for a checklist when evaluating SNF options.

SNFs must be (1) Licensed or (2) Licensed and Certified. SNFs do not have to accept Medicare or Medi-Cal residents, but if they do, they must also meet the standards established by the federal government to participate in these programs. In other words, a facility that treats Medicare or Medi-Cal residents must be licensed and certified.

Long-Term Care (LTC) Ombudsman Program

The LTC Ombudsman staff and certified volunteers regularly visit SNFs to meet with residents and their families and help address questions or concerns they may have. The LTC Ombudsman serves as an advocate for the residents. To locate the LTC Ombudsman in your area, refer to Find Services in My County. The LTC Ombudsman also investigates allegations of SNF abuse or neglect and operates a 24-hour telephone hotline to address immediate issues or reports of abuse or neglect. That number is 1-800-231-4024.