If you or a loved one has been hospitalized with a serious illness or injury or undergone major surgery, your next step may be to transfer to a short-term rehabilitation facility to continue your recovery. Also known as skilled nursing facilities, a rehabilitation facility can provide you with the additional, personalized care you need to be strong and healthy enough to return home.
There are a wide range of conditions that may make a stay in a rehabilitation facility the right option for you, including:
If your hospitalization is scheduled, rather than an emergency, talk with your doctor ahead of time to find out how long your recovery may take and what types of care and support you will need when you’re discharged from the hospital. Ask whether a short-term stay in a rehabilitation facility is an option you should consider. If your hospitalization is an emergency, you should talk with your doctor as soon as possible about whether you’d benefit from the care you’d receive in a skilled nursing facility so you can arrange to be transferred directly when you’re discharged. It’s also wise to check with your health insurance provider to see if you have coverage for this type of care.
How to choose the most appropriate facility for your needs
You should explore several facilities because your first choice may not have space available when you’re discharged. The goal is to find a rehabilitation facility that provides high quality care and the personalized support you need. While choosing a facility close to home can make it easier for family to visit, bear in mind that sometimes the most appropriate option is a facility that’s a bit further away.
Before choosing a facility, get the answer to these questions:
- Is the facility accredited by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations (JCAHCO)? This accreditation means that the facility has met the Commission’s standards for quality of care. Facilities undergo the rigorous accreditation process every three years.
- Does the facility provide programs specially designed for your condition? The type of rehabilitation needed after a stroke or brain injury is very different than the care needed after joint replacement. Ask how many patients they treat with your condition and whether the physicians, nurses, and therapists who provide care have special training in treating people with your condition.
- Are patients at the facility regularly seen by a physician? In some cases, your primary care physician or surgeon may see you at the facility for follow-up. If that’s not the case, is there a board certified physician on staff who sees patients on a regular basis? There should be a physician on call 24-hours a day to deal with emergencies.
- How experienced is the medical staff? How many years of experience do the doctors, nurses, and therapists have providing rehabilitative care? How long have the worked at this facility?
- What is the ratio of trained rehabilitation registered nurses to patients? These professionals provide a higher level of care than nursing assistants and other support staff. The ideal ratio is one nurse to every six patients.
- How often is therapy provided? The most effective approach to rehab is daily therapy to rebuild strength, endurance, and skills. Find out whether the facility provides therapy sessions at least five, but preferably seven, days a week and how long each session is.
- What are the facility’s outcome statistics? Ask how many patients with your condition are able to return to their normal daily activities and independent living at home.
- What additional support does the facility offer? Are there support groups and family education programs? Does the facility provide training so that family members know how to care for you once you’re home? Is there a patient care coordinator to help with discharge planning, insurance issues, and arranging care that’s needed once you go home?
Asking these questions can help you choose the rehabilitation facility that will provide the quality care you need to make your best recovery.