What's an assessment in skilled nursing facilities?

When you go to a skilled nursing facility (SNF), a team of staff from different medical fields (depending on your health needs) plans your care. Your SNF care is based on your doctor's orders and information the team gathers when they do daily assessments of your condition. Your doctor and the SNF staff (with your input) use the assessments to decide what services you need and your health goal (or goals). A health goal is the expected result of your treatment, like being able to walk a certain distance or to climb stairs.

Medicare requires your SNF to record and submit some of your assessments, including one within the first 8 days of your SNF stay. This is known as the “5-day assessment.” Medicare also requires the SNF to do an assessment when your Part A SNF coverage ends, even if you’re going to stay in the SNF facility. This is known as “the Part A discharge assessment.” SNFs may also choose to do other optional assessments during your stay. 

An assessment includes collecting information about:

  • Your current physical and mental condition
  • Your medical history
  • Medications you're taking
  • How well you can do activities of daily living (like bathing, dressing, eating, getting in and out of bed or a chair, moving around, and using the bathroom)
  • Your speech
  • Your decision-making ability
  • Your physical limitations (like problems with your hearing or vision, paralysis after a stroke, or balance problems)