Spotlight on Skilled Nursing Facilities

The Skilled Nursing Facility or Sub-Acute Rehab setting can be a rewarding work setting for therapists. Unlike hospitals, which have very short stays, SNF therapists can get to know their patients and feel the pride of hard work and accomplishment when a patient improves enough to return home. Skilled Nursing Facility therapists frequently continue their education, specializing in geriatrics or neurological rehab. In addition, therapists who go into this field are rewarded with high rates of pay.

Care levels

Skilled Nursing Facilities provide both sub-acute rehabilitation and long-term care for their patients.
Patients may stay just for their recovery period, or for an extended length of time. Therapists who work in a Skilled Nursing Facility can provide treatment for, or assistance with, any of the following:

  • Neuro Rehabilitation; for conditions such as Cerebral Vascular Accidents, Parkinson’s Disease, and Multiple Sclerosis
  • Rehabilitation for general orthopaedic injuries; for example hip, ankle, shoulder, and pelvic fractures
  • Rehabilitation for total joint replacements
  • Occupational Therapy for a return to a prior level of function in bathing, dressing or eating, etc.
  • Speech Language Pathology for cognitive, language, and swallow disorders

Working in a Long-term Acute Care Hospital (LTAC) Setting

LTAC patients have been discharged from a general or rehab hospital and require an intermediate step before returning home.  The LTAC setting offers a blend of SNF and Hospital care levels.  In addition to the SNF conditions mentioned above, patients require additional acute levels of care, such as ventilated supported breathing or intravenous antibiotics. Therapists who have worked in the intensive care setting of a general hospital should be able to easily transfer their skills into the LTAC setting. Therapists who have experience in general hospital settings or Skilled Nursing Facilities will need orientation to ventilator supported patient care in order to transfer their skills to the LTAC setting.

Percentage of therapists working in skilled nursing facilities

Skilled Nursing Facilities provide therapists with an alternative to outpatient, home health, or hospital work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 9 percent of occupational therapists, 7 percent of physical therapists and 5 percent of speech language pathologists work in nursing and residential care facilities.

Average salary of therapists in this setting

Therapists who work in Skilled Nursing Facilities are among the highest paid in their professions, with median annual average wages of $90,1500 (occupational therapists), $92,890 (physical therapists) and $94,840 (speech language pathologists).

Qualities of a great skilled nursing facility

If you’ve decided this is the therapy setting for you, you’ll want to consider a few important qualities of a great Skilled Nursing Facility before you choose your next job placement. These include the following:

  • Teamwork across disciplines. All staffing units; including clinical, nursing, environmental services, and dietary employees, should work together for the benefit of the patients. Great facilities outlaw the “It’s not my job” attitude, creating positive and supportive work environments.
  • Professional and Home-like Environment. Since a Skilled Nursing Facility functions as a home to some of its patients, it’s important that the facility feels warm and friendly. However, the facility should also have a professional environment with pleasing décor, manicured outdoor areas, plant life, and therapy animals, and be free from odors. Staff and residents, alike, benefit from the blending of these two dynamics.
  • Support to meet Productivity Expectations. Some facilities help therapists be as efficient as possible, just by their layout. Transporting patients between their rooms and the gym hinders productivity.  One solution is having sub-acute patients live in a designated rehabilitation wing, and providing therapists with easy access to meet patients and get them to the gym. Nursing staff can also help therapists improve efficiency by ensuring timely delivery of the medications that are necessary for rehab to take place.
  • Effectiveness of the Manager. An effective rehab manager carefully listens to their therapist’s needs, and actively provides solutions to clinical needs.   They manage the schedule in a way that supports an even division of the patient load.  And they clearly communicate expectations and changes that affect their department.
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For help asking the questions that will reveal whether or not the facility that you are interviewing has these qualities, download myPTsolutions’ Interview Questions Every Therapist Should Ask.

For more information
To learn more about becoming a skilled nursing facility therapist, visit the following:

Looking for employment in a skilled nursing facility?

If you’re a therapist looking for work in this setting, myPTsolutions can help. We place physical and occupational therapists and speech language pathologists with job opportunities in a variety of settings, including skilled nursing facilities. To learn more, contact us today.

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