Last Updated 22 Mar 2021

Nursing Home Facility versus a General Acute Care Hospital

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A nursing home facility also known as a rest home can be defined as a place of residence for people who need constant nursing care. A nursing home offers a range of services in addition to skilled nursing and custodial care. These services include a room all meals, social activities, personal care, 24 hour nursing supervision and access to medical services. On the other hand a general acute care hospital is a health facility or institution which offers emergency medical, surgical and intensive care together with maternity services for admitted patients as well out patients. This care is given around the clock with the presence of a registered nursing staff and daily visits of the physician (Morton, P. Hudak, C. & Gallo B. (1998).

Most nursing homes provide two basic types of services which include skilled medical care and custodial care. Skilled Medicare services are offered by trained professionals and can be required for a limited period of time in case of an injury or illness. Consequently, skilled care may be needed on a long term basis if a resident/ patient requires injections or other treatments which are long term.

This skilled medical care involves physical therapy where the resident is helped to walk or get on or out of bed and even toileting. In case the patients or residents have wounds the nurse is supposed to assist in wound care which involves dressing and administration of antibiotics and monitoring on intravenous fluids. Custodial or personal care includes assistance in dressing, bathing, eating, walking and even toileting. Custodial care is required since people recovering may temporarily need assistance before they are able to work for themselves.

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Skilled and custodial care in a nursing home facility is given by a licensed and registered nurse who is supposed to be on duty all day long. The care is given until the patients are able to return to their homes and take care of themselves without much assistance or when the facility feels that there could be no further improvements on the individual patient. Some nursing homes do not have facilities that are certified for Medicare for example beds therefore; this facility is more of a residential home since it provides a room, meals and other necessary requirements for daily living and recreation. The patients here are treated more like a family since the nurses are able to cater more to their specific needs whether emotional or medical (Weiss al, 2001)

While receiving skilled or rehabilitation, the nursing home will provide custodial care together with professional services, however the Medicaid paid does not cover all the cost of care and this means that the resident must cater for the other costs. A physician attends residents in a nursing home occasionally when need arises. Whereas in a General Acute Care Hospital, nursing, care is oriented and motivated by urgency. Diagnostic and therapeutic modalities are readily available and therefore immediate medical care decisions are necessary. Like in a nursing home, nursing care here is given by a registered nurse who is present all around the clock. In this facility medical care is instituted on admission and there are daily visits of the physician.

Like in the nursing home, skilled care is given to the patients together with custodial care until patients have recovered or when they are referred to a nursing for fur

ther monitoring and care by a physician. Nursing services are highly specialized due to a high rate of admissions and emergency. A high percentage of professional staff in the nursing department may also contribute to the specialization (Green gold NL.2004). This kind of facility attends to acute cases which may not be taken care of at home or a nursing home. Equally all the facilities are certified and patients are attended at individual level.


There are significant differences on the care of patients in a Nursing Home Facility and in a General Acute Care Hospital. These differences are so pronounced and are not necessary since both of the two facilities are health care facilities and all the residents’ medical care on a daily basis. The main objective of a health care facility is the provision of quality services.


  1. Green gold NL. When can we change an established medical practice? AHA News:2004:40:6
  2. Morton, P. Hudak, C. & Gallo B. (1998). Critical care nursing: a holistic approach 7th ed.Lippincott, Williams, Wilkins
  3. Weiss Man, DE; Griffre, J; Muchka, S; Matson, S. Improving pain management in longterm care facilities. Journal of palliative medicine; 2001; 4:4:567-573


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Nursing Home Facility versus a General Acute Care Hospital. (2017, May 25). Retrieved from

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