The Difference Between Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) and Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE)

Residential care facilities for the elderly (RCFEs) and skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are often confused as being the same thing. However, the two types of live-in facilities for elderly persons are very different, and are held to different standards of care. If you are the loved one of an elderly person who is residing in either type of care facility and suspect abuse or neglect, contact a San Diego nursing home abuse attorney for help as soon as possible.

Skilled Nursing Facilities in California

A skilled nursing facility, also often referred to simply as a nursing home, is a medical facility that is licensed by the State of California Department of Public Health. SNFs are licensed to provide 24/7, around-the-clock care to facility residents. Because these facility types are indeed considered to be medical facilities, they are held to a higher standard of care than are other types of housing for the elderly. At a minimum, a skilled nursing facility must provide physician, nursing, dietary, and pharmaceutical services, as well as an activity program, according to the California Department of Public Health. Professionals working in SNFs may be guilty of medical malpractice when negligence resulting in patient harm occurs.

Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly

Unlike a SNF, an RCFE is not a medical facility. Instead, these are facilities that provide things such as room, board, housekeeping, meals, supervision, and personal care assistance to elderly residents. Often referred to as assisted living centers, RCFEs are completely voluntary and are not designed for residents who need 24-hour care.

While RCFEs are not medical centers, they are still tightly regulated. Further, they must meet care and safety standards laid forth by the California Department of Social Services. And, some RCFEs can care for patients with minor medical needs and can help with tasks such as the distribution of medications. However, they are not required to have nurses or doctors on staff. Further, staff hiring standards are low; minimal training and education are required to work within an RCFE. There is also no specific staff to patient ratios.

Which Facility Type Should I Choose for My Loved One?

Making a decision about where your elderly loved one should be housed can be challenging and emotional. If your loved one requires medical services, a skilled nursing facility is best. If your loved one is fairly independent but needs help with basic tasks, like housekeeping or bathing, a residential care facility may be satisfactory.

While the two types of facilities are very different, both can be held liable for damages when negligence causes patient harm. If you suspect that abuse or neglect is occurring, you should report the abuse immediately and then call an elder abuse attorney.

Elder Abuse Attorneys Serving the San Diego Area

At Berman & Riedel, LLP, our experienced San Diego elder abuse attorneys can help your loved one. To learn more about elderly persons’ rights when residing in care facilities in California, negligence, liability, and civil suits, call our offices today at 858-350-8855 or contact us using our online form.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to common questions people have about personal injury cases and working with a lawyer. During your initial consultation, we will be happy to answer questions that are particular to your case.

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Personal Injury Attorney?

The attorneys at Berman & Riedel, LLP, accept cases on a contingency-fee basis. This type of agreement means you do not pay any attorneys’ fees out-of-pocket for legal representation. Attorneys’ fees are also contingent on the outcome of your case.

You benefit from legal representation in exchange for an agreed-upon percentage of a settlement or jury award. We will only recover a fee if you recover compensation.

Can You Tell Me How Much My Case Is Worth?

There is no way to determine the exact value of a personal injury case, especially early in your case. However, an experienced attorney can give you an estimated range based on their experience with similar cases.

There are many factors that may influence the value of your case, such as:

  • Your total financial or economic damages
  • The severity of your injuries
  • The impact of your injuries on your daily life
  • The strength of your case
  • Whether you share fault for your accident
  • Insurance policy limits 

Some damages are easy to calculate, such as lost wages and medical bills. Calculating the value of diminished earnings for the rest of your life or future medical needs; however, may require the help of experts. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no intrinsic financial value. These damages are challenging to calculate. 

If your case goes before a jury, you may potentially be able to recover more than you could through a settlement. However, this introduces a new element of risk: the jury. The circumstances of your accident and even how sympathetic you or the defendant are can influence the outcome.

During your consultation, and throughout your case, we will help you understand how these factors influence your case. We will also work tirelessly to document the value of all your damages and pursue maximum compensation on your behalf.

Will My Case Go to Trial?

The vast majority of cases are resolved by reaching a settlement agreement outside of court. Very few personal injury cases actually go to trial, but it is more likely if the facts in your case are in dispute, a legal issue is being contested, or you have a high-value case.

An experienced lawyer will build your case as if it will go to trial from the beginning. The stronger your case and evidence, the more likely a fair settlement will be reached.

How Do I Know If I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer?

If your case involves mostly property damage or minor injuries, you likely do not need a lawyer to handle a claim with the insurance company. The more serious your injuries, or the more complex your case, the more important it becomes to seek experienced legal counsel.

Remember that the insurance company is not on your side, even if the insurance adjuster seems sympathetic and you receive a settlement offer. If you are being blamed for your accident or sustained serious injury, a lawyer will help you protect your rights and build the strongest case possible. This includes calculating the full value of your current and future losses.

Legal representation is also vital if your case involves a complex area of law such as elder abuse or neglect, premises liability, commercial vehicle accidents, medical malpractice, or serious work-related accidents. Determining liability, navigating decades of legal precedence, and interpreting specific statutes in these cases is best done with years of relevant legal experience.

Do You Accept Cases Outside of San Diego?

While our law office is located in San Diego, Berman & Riedel, LLP, accepts cases throughout the state of California.

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