How to Choose Between Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation

Knowing where to access high-quality rehabilitative support after discharge can be comforting if you or a loved one requires a hospital stay due to an injury, illness, or surgery. Rehab for seniors can help older adults regain and maintain functional skills, such as speech and mobility, before returning home or moving to a retirement or long-term care community.

Skilled Nursing centers and rehabilitative centers are the most common short-term care options following a hospital discharge. Below, we'll explore the similarities and differences between Skilled Nursing and rehab centers to help you choose the best setting for your recovery.

What Is a Skilled Nursing Center?

Skilled Nursing centers offer 24/7 nursing care to older adults who need medical support after leaving the hospital. They also provide rehabilitative services to help people improve and maintain their physical and cognitive functional abilities. Available therapies can vary between communities but may include the following:

  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Social and mental health support

Many Skilled Nursing settings offer only short-term care. However, Spring Harbor's Horizon Bay Skilled Nursing center can accommodate residents requiring both short- and long-term care, allowing you to access high-quality medical and rehabilitative support for as long as you need it. Unlike communities with shared rooms, Spring Harbor's Horizon Bay provides residents with care in their own private suites and offers additional amenities to make life more comfortable, such as housekeeping services and massage therapy.

What Is a Rehabilitation Center?

Rehabilitation centers are specialized hospitals that provide rehabilitative therapies. They offer medical and rehab services similar to Skilled Nursing centers but typically provide more intensive treatment to promote rapid recovery. Generally, rehabilitation centers deliver at least 3 hours of therapeutic services per day, compared to 1–2 hours per day provided in a typical Skilled Nursing center.

Your doctor may recommend a stay in a rehabilitation center if you have complex medical needs or require intensive rehab after experiencing a stroke, traumatic injury, or major surgery. Rehab centers are only suitable for short-term care, and most patients are discharged within around 35 days.

Skilled Nursing vs. Rehab for Seniors

Both Skilled Nursing and rehabilitative centers can be excellent options for older adults recovering from an illness, injury, or surgery. Which option is best for you or your loved one depends on several factors, including your medical needs and treatment goals.

Your physician can help you choose the best recovery setting based on these factors. Rehabilitation centers are usually more suitable for people who need intensive treatment, while Skilled Nursing could be a better option if you require fewer treatment hours per day.

Generally, rehab centers are the most appropriate choice for seniors with extensive medical needs because these settings can offer more frequent access to a physician. However, some Skilled Nursing centers also offer this service. For example, Spring Harbor offers on-site physician services, allowing us to provide care to residents with more complex needs.

Finally, consider how long you wish to stay in a Skilled Nursing or rehab center. The intensive treatment offered by rehab centers typically results in shorter stays, making rehabilitation worth considering if you're keen to return home quickly. However, if your doctor recommends less strenuous treatment that involves longer-term care, you may prefer to stay in a Skilled Nursing center.

When To Consider Memory Support

Memory Support could be an excellent alternative to a Skilled Nursing or rehab center if you or a loved one develops a disorder such as dementia or Alzheimer's. Communities offering Memory Support provide a comfortable environment with added safety services to reduce the risk of wandering, missing medication, and other issues commonly associated with memory problems.

Moving to a Memory Support center could also be a good option after a stay in a Skilled Nursing center if you experience memory issues after a stroke or other brain injury. Spring Harbor's dedicated Lighthouse Point center features one-bedroom suites with private bathrooms, beautiful and secure outdoor spaces, and 24-hour access to expert Memory Support care.

Explore Your Care Options

The knowledgeable team at Spring Harbor is always on hand to welcome you to our vibrant community and help you navigate your care options. Schedule a tour to explore our accommodations and amenities and learn more about our Skilled Nursing and Memory Support services.


Visit Spring Harbor at Green Island

Schedule a time to tour our stunning community, meet our vibrant residents, and let us answer your important questions. Once you step into our world, you’ll understand why so many seniors happily call Spring Harbor home.