Back to Basics: Short-Term Care vs. Long-Term Care


Making decisions concerning care for you or a loved one is rarely, if ever, easy. There is much to take into account including the type of care needed, who will provide that care, where it will be provided and how to pay for it.

Here in brief are the basics of short-term care and long-term care.

Short-Term Care

Short-term care, in one word, is temporary.

Patients may require a short stay at a nursing facility if they are recovering from a serious illness or injury. For example, a senior may require medically administrated wound care, intravenous therapy, injections and lab tests, as well as continual therapies, after a fall.

Short-term care at Homeland involves a level of care provided by trained and certified medical professionals to help patients progress to the level of function they were prior to an incident.

“Those professionals may include registered nurses and physical, occupational and speech therapists,” says Deb Haas, Director of Skilled Care Admissions and Ellenberger Unit Coordinator at Homeland Center. “Obtaining rehabilitation and therapy services at a facility like Homeland is convenient and more intensive than an outpatient rehabilitation facility, as it offers patients more hours in therapy to help them get back to the life they were used to living in less time.”

Short-term care is covered by Medicare and most insurance plans for up to 100 days if deemed necessary by a physician.

Long-Term Care

Seniors in need of support due to a physical or mental condition that limits their ability to function independently may need long-term care.

Long-term care includes both medical (skilled) and non-medical assistance. An example of skilled care is changing sterile dressings. An example of non-medical care (or custodial care) is help with daily tasks such as feeding, bathing and dressing. Individuals who need long-term care typically have a chronic or progressive illness, or an advanced memory impairment such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Medicare may cover care in a certified skilled nursing facility (SNF) like Homeland if skilled nursing care is medically necessary. However, most nursing home care is custodial care, and Medicare doesn’t cover custodial care if that is the only care needed. Coverage through Medicaid or long-term care insurance may, on the other hand, cover custodial care if that is the only care needed.

“We recognize that the differences between short-term and long-term care can be confusing, as well as what insurance may cover,” adds Haas. “We invite anyone, at any stage in their decision-making process to talk with us. We are here to alleviate anxiety by helping future residents and their caregivers better understand their options so they can confidently make the healthcare decision that is right for them.”

Offering 24-hour expert nursing for those requiring either short or long-term care, Homeland Center’s care is designed with our residents’ comfort and well-being in mind. Homeland Center, a Continuing Care Retirement Community, is a Five-Star CMS Skilled Nursing Care Facility. In keeping with its founders’ goal to meet the region’s needs, no resident in financial distress has ever been asked to leave.