The Difference Between Skilled Nursing Facilities and Residential Care Facilities
Residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are often confused as being the same thing. However, the two types of live-in facilities for elderly persons are very different, and are held to different standards of care.
Skilled Nursing Facilities in CaliforniaA skilled nursing facility, also often referred to simply as a nursing home, is a medical facility that is licensed by the State of California Department of Public Health. SNFs are licensed to provide 24/7, around-the-clock care to facility residents. Because these facility types are indeed considered to be medical facilities, they are held to a higher standard of care than are other types of housing for the elderly. At a minimum, a skilled nursing facility must provide physician, nursing, dietary, and pharmaceutical services, as well as an activity program, according to the California Department of Public Health. Professionals working in SNFs may be guilty of medical malpractice when negligence resulting in patient harm occurs.
Residential Care Facilities for the ElderlyUnlike a SNF, an RCFE is not a medical facility. Instead, these are facilities that provide things such as room, board, housekeeping, meals, supervision, and personal care assistance to elderly residents. Often referred to as assisted living centers, RCFEs are completely voluntary, and are not designed for residents who need 24-hour care.
While RCFEs are not medical centers, they are still tightly regulated. Further, they must meet care and safety standards laid forth by the California Department of Social Services. And, some RCFEs can care for patients with minor medical needs, and can help with tasks such as distribution of medications. However, they are not required to have nurses or doctors on staff. Further, staff hiring standards are low; minimal training and education is required to work within a RCFE. There are also no specific staff to patient ratios.