What is Skilled Care? Understanding the Expert Care You Need

If you require ongoing care for your health, you may be wondering what skilled care is and how it differs from the basic care you may receive at home or in a nursing home. Skilled care refers to the expert care that is provided by licensed healthcare professionals, such as nurses and therapists. This type of care aims to treat complex conditions and facilitate the patient’s recovery, whether it is from an acute injury, a chronic disease, or from a recent hospital stay.

What are the Benefits of Skilled Care?

Skilled care has a host of benefits for people who need ongoing healthcare. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Improved access to healthcare professionals who can diagnose and treat complex medical conditions
  • More personalized care that is tailored to the patient’s individual needs, abilities, and preferences
  • Greater independence and dignity, as skilled care providers can help patients manage their own care and daily routines
  • Reduced hospital readmissions, as skilled care can help prevent complications and ensure that patients are well-prepared to return home after hospital stays

Who Provides Skilled Care?

Skilled care is usually provided by licensed healthcare professionals, such as:

  • Registered nurses (RNs)
  • Licensed practical nurses (LPNs)
  • Occupational therapists (OTs)
  • Physical therapists (PTs)
  • Speech-language pathologists (SLPs)
  • Certified nursing assistants (CNAs)

Registered Nurses (RNs) and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs)

Registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs) are responsible for assessing and monitoring patients’ health status, administering medications and medical treatments, and providing patient education. RNs have a higher level of training and are able to perform more advanced procedures than LPNs.

Occupational Therapists (OTs)

Occupational therapists (OTs) help patients recover from physical and mental disabilities so that they can participate in their daily routines and activities of daily living (ADLs). OTs can help patients with a wide range of tasks, from grooming and dressing to using household appliances and writing.

Physical therapists (PTs)

Physical therapists (PTs) help patients restore movement and function after injury or illness. They use exercises, stretches, and other treatments to help patients regain mobility, strength, and endurance. PTs also provide patient education and help patients prevent future injuries.

Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs)

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) help patients with communication and swallowing disorders. They can help patients who have suffered from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, Parkinson’s disease, and other conditions that affect speech and swallowing. SLPs may provide speech therapy, swallowing therapy, and patient education.

Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs)

Certified nursing assistants (CNAs) provide basic care to patients, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding. They also help patients with mobility and assist with toileting and other personal care needs.

When is Skilled Care Needed?

Skilled care is typically needed when a person has a complex medical condition that requires ongoing treatment and monitoring from healthcare professionals. Some common scenarios that may require skilled care include:

  • Recovery from surgery or hospitalization
  • Chronic diseases, such as diabetes or heart disease
  • Stroke or other neurological conditions
  • Cancer
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
  • Mobility or balance problems
  • Other conditions that require advanced medical care and treatment

What are the Types of Skilled Care Services?

Skilled care services can vary depending on the patient’s needs and medical condition. Some of the most common types of skilled care services are:

Medical Care

Medical care refers to the treatment and management of acute and chronic medical conditions. Skilled medical care may include:

  • Administering medications, including intravenous (IV) medications
  • Providing medical treatments, such as wound care, catheter management, and ventilator support
  • Monitoring vital signs and health status to detect changes or complications
  • Coordinating care with other healthcare providers, such as physicians, specialists, and hospitals

Rehabilitation Services

Rehabilitation services are designed to help patients recover from injuries or illnesses that affect their daily function and mobility. Skilled rehabilitation services may include:

  • Physical therapy to restore mobility, strength, and balance
  • Occupational therapy to help patients with daily routines and activities of daily living (ADLs)
  • Speech-language pathology to address communication and swallowing disorders

Home Health Aide Services

Home health aide services provide assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, dressing, and meal preparation. Home health aides may also provide companionship and emotional support to patients who are homebound or have limited mobility.

Medical Social Services

Medical social services provide support and assistance to patients and their families in areas such as counseling, community resources, and financial assistance.

How to Choose a Skilled Care Provider?

Choosing a skilled care provider can be a daunting task, particularly if you are dealing with a complex medical condition, such as cancer or stroke. Here are some tips to help you choose the right skilled care provider for your needs:

Research Care Providers in Your Area

Ask your doctor for recommendations or search online for skilled care providers in your area. Make a list of potential providers and their services and check their reviews and ratings.

Check their Licensing and Accreditation

Make sure the skilled care provider has the necessary licenses and certifications to provide the care you need. Also, check if they are accredited by a recognized healthcare organization, such as The Joint Commission or the Community Health Accreditation Partner (CHAP).

Ask about their Experience and Specialties

Ask the provider about their experience and specialties. Skilled care providers may have different areas of expertise, such as oncology nursing or geriatric physical therapy. Choose a provider who has experience in treating your specific medical condition.

Consider their Communication and Care Coordination

Choose a skilled care provider who communicates clearly and regularly with you and your other healthcare providers. Also, consider how they coordinate care with other providers, such as your primary care physician, specialists, and hospitals.

Check their Availability and Flexibility

Choose a skilled care provider who is available to provide care when you need it, including evenings and weekends. Also, consider their flexibility to adjust their care plans based on your changing needs and preferences.


Skilled care is the expert care provided by licensed healthcare professionals to treat complex medical conditions and facilitate patients’ recovery. Skilled care offers a host of benefits, including improved access to healthcare professionals, more personalized care, greater independence and dignity, and reduced hospital readmissions. Skilled care services may include medical care, rehabilitation services, home health aide services, and medical social services. Choosing the right skilled care provider can be a daunting task, but by following these tips, you can find the right provider for your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • What is the difference between skilled care and non-skilled care?

    Skilled care refers to the expert care provided by licensed healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat complex medical conditions. Non-skilled care refers to the basic care provided by non-licensed caregivers, such as bathing, dressing, and feeding.

  • Does Medicare cover skilled care?

    Yes, Medicare covers skilled care services, including home health care, skilled nursing care, and rehabilitation services, under certain conditions.

  • What is the cost of skilled care?

    The cost of skilled care varies depending on the type of services needed, the provider, and the location. Medicare and other insurance plans may cover some or all of the costs of skilled care services.

  • What are the qualifications for skilled care?

    To receive skilled care services, you must have a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment and monitoring from licensed healthcare professionals, such as nurses and therapists.

  • Who pays for skilled care?

    Skilled care services may be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance plans, or out-of-pocket expenses.


1. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2021). Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) care coverage.

2. National Institute on Aging. (2020). Home health care: MedlinePlus.

3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Home Health Care Services.

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