elderly care

Nursing Home Vs. Rehabilitation Center: What Care Do You Need?

When it comes to long-term care, choosing the right type of care is critical to ensuring a successful transition for both patients and their families. You may be deciding from a nursing home, an assisted living center, a rehabilitation center, or other senior care services.

In this blog, you’ll learn about the differences between nursing homes and rehabilitation centers. This information will prepare you to make the best decision on which is the most appropriate option for you or your loved one.

Nursing Home:

A nursing home is a facility that provides long-term personal and/or nursing care for those who can no longer care properly for themselves. They often fall into two categories; public and private.


  • Nursing homes are easily accessible. There are usually several in even small towns which makes this a viable option for just about everyone
  • They accept most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid
  • They are typically close to family, so visiting is easier
  • Nursing homes offer social and/or recreational events for residents and their families
  • Their focus is on providing long-term care instead of transitioning patients back to their previous daily routine
  • They offer around-the-clock care


  • Nursing homes are primarily subsidized by some level of government funding
  • The staff to resident ratio may be less than optimal
  • Unless specified otherwise, room and board may usually consist of two residents to a room and three square meals/day
  • They may not offer in-house rehabilitation services

Nursing homes are a convenient and widely available option if you or your loved one need extended or permanent care and assistance. They can range from semi-assisted to full long-term nursing care, depending on the facility you choose. Patients and their families must consider what their budget and insurance coverage will allow, and they must understand that each facility is unique in what it offers.

Rehabilitation Center

A rehabilitation center is a facility, also public or private, that provides therapy and training for rehabilitation. As such, this type of facility will offer physical, occupational, and speech therapy. Each facility is different and some may also provide specialized treatments as well.
Much like with nursing homes, there is a private sector for rehab centers and a public sector.


  • They do offer in-house rehabilitation services and focus on therapy to help residents transition back to assisted living and/or their daily life before rehab
  • They accept most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid
  • Room and board will consist of two people per room unless other arrangements are made.
  • Residents get three square meals and may have access to a commissary of sorts for snacks outside scheduled meal times


  • They do not focus on long-term or terminal care
    • Rehabilitation centers aim to get their patients back on their feet as safely and quickly as possible. This allows for new beds to open up and ensures a smooth transition back into society.

The main issue is deciding whether or not a rehab center is going to give you the sort of care you need and whether it’s the right choice.

When it comes to rehabilitation, especially in-patient rehab, it is usually a rehabilitation facility that receives the patient, as compared to a nursing home. Bedridden patients who may have suffered a traumatic brain injury, the effects of a long-term terminal, or debilitating illness, will often need therapy that a nursing home may not be able to provide.

With that being said, nursing homes will take people who’ve suffered from a debilitating disease. However, they are most likely to accept patients who won’t transition back to their previous daily routine. While nursing homes are looking for patients who need long-term or end-of-life care, rehabilitation centers are focused on helping residents transition back to their everyday lives.

How They Work Together

In some cases, nursing homes and rehabilitation centers work together. A patient may start in a rehab center and transition into a nursing home. Sometimes, they go to a rehab center after a stay at a nursing home and then eventually transition back to the nursing home. Some facilities know the benefits of both institutions. At Knollwood Nursing Center, for instance, we offer both a long-term nursing home facility and an in-patient rehabilitation facility. A patient can transition between the two until it’s determined they can return to their outside, daily life. And if a nursing home is the main goal, they are already accompanied by familiar surroundings, helping them heal and recover that much faster.

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