Letters you need to know and why they could be life savers may seem a bit drastic, but hear me out.

We live in a world in which we often use acronyms to communicate. So it is important for family caregivers to recognize and understand specific letters.

We recently talked about this at the Keeping It REAL Caregiving newsletter but let’s review again.

There are a few key terms you should be aware of and how they can impact your life.

1. SNF – Skilled Nursing Facility

A Skilled Nursing Facility is what many commonly refer to as a Nursing Home. This type of facility caters to the needs of individuals who have more advanced and long-term medical care needs or rehabilitation after a hospital visit.

For instance, let’s say an elder loved-one suffers a stroke which requires hospital treatment. They are released from the hospital several days later, but they can no longer walk, prepare food or eat without help.

Maybe they are unable to stand or go to the bathroom on their own? Returning home may not be an option.

In such a case, a Skilled Nursing Facility would likely be the prescribed destination.

In California, SNF’s are licensed and reviewed by the California Department of Public Health.

Medicare and Medicaid typically cover fees associated with a Skilled Nursing Facility stay when an individual is referred from the hospital. There are time limits for length of care. Some SNF facilities only accept individuals via a hospital referral.

2. ALF – Assisted Living Facility

Unlike a SNF, an Assisted Living Facility can provide short and/or long-term care for individuals needing non-medical assistance. In California, the Department of Social Services oversees the licensing, inspections and any citations for ALF’s.

We’ve all seen commercials for such properties touting amenities (regular BINGO, hair/nail salons/movie outings/exercise classes) and the like.

These activities are fine and dandy, but it is just as important (maybe even more so) to understand staffing protocol:

  • Are there CNA’s – Certified nursing assistants on hand?
  • How are staff members trained?
  • Will your loved one receive top-level care?

When researching ALF’S, it’s important to ask about staffing, training, meal services, showering policy, and emergency evacuation plans.

You should also know these facilities are private pay, meaning Medicare does not cover the costs. Prices can range drastically depending on where you live – sometimes upwards of $9,000 a month!

Just the beginning


There are many more services and programs which use acronyms you should be aware of. We’ll dive into more in upcoming posts.

In the meantime, check out several articles from the Keeping It REAL Caregiving newsletter which touch on more of WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!

*Related KIRC articles you may have missed on this topic*