How to Choose the Right Short-Term Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility After a Hospital Stay

Why Aging Adults Should Plan for Adequate Recovery After a Hospital Stay or Surgery.

After a major health event and a hospital stay, most patients want to go straight home to recover in the comfort of their surroundings. Particularly for aging adults, this is not always possible. Even when released from a hospital, they may not be strong enough or ready to go home. Being at home without any medical assistance increases the chances of hospital readmission exponentially.

If you have a planned hospital stay or surgery, the best advice is to select a short-term skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility before your hospital stay. Be prepared to know where you will go to transition, recuperate and regain your strength. Your physician will likely recommend that you be discharged to a skilled nursing facility. This way, you or your caregiver avoid the overwhelming stress of making this difficult decision quickly. Individuals require different levels of care, various therapies, and specialists.  You can anticipate what the needs will be if the hospital stay is planned. Speak to your physician ahead of time and get an idea of what to expect. If you find yourself in an emergency and need to make quick decisions, seek advice from your physician or from people you trust who have experience. If possible, make an appointment to tour the facility before committing. A physical evaluation will allow for a more educated and personalized decision. Make sure that your physician is on board and able to partner with the caregiving team.

What is Short-Term Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation?

Short-term care is temporary medical care provided after individuals have surgery, a major illness, accident, or other situation that causes a level of temporary incapacity. The services here typically last a few weeks or even a few months. These facilities provide rehabilitation services, including but not limited to physical therapy (to relieve pain and restore function), occupational therapy (provides skills and possibly tools for self-care), and speech therapy (usually following a stroke), as well as services like wound care and respiratory care. They will also dispense medications and assist patients with everyday living tasks, like, bathing, dressing, eating, mobility, and more. The most important thing to note is the goal of these facilities is to get you or your loved one recuperated and strong enough to go home. Today, most nursing homes have dedicated units that provide this short-term care and are prepared to meet geriatric-specific needs.

Tips for selecting a Short-Term Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility

Ensure that the facility you choose offers the necessary support:

  • physicians
  • ARNPs, nurses, and CNAs
  • physical, speech, and occupational therapists
  • dieticians
  • case managers/social work
  • recreational therapists

Some facilities offer more comprehensive recovery support. These services may include blood transfusions, cardiac monitoring, pain management, respiratory services, administration of IV medicines, diagnostic imaging, and more.

Beyond the list of services, ensure the facility you choose has experience dealing with the particular procedure or condition that you or your loved one has. A team effort between your physician and recovery staff ensures a smoother recuperation.

Inquire about typical daily schedules and confirm that you or your loved one receives the required daily therapy. Lying in bed for hours at a time will not help in the recovery effort.

Once you have narrowed down your options, make a personal visit(s). Evaluate the environment to guarantee that the overall facility meets individual needs for privacy, comfort, and overall atmosphere. What are the external surroundings, views, and offerings? Are patients able to safely access the outdoors? Is it a peaceful environment, or do you see or feel stress or chaos? How do the staff interact with the patients? Do the patients look like they are well taken care of? A comfortable, stress-free environment will help with recovery.

Check for appropriate accreditation and review quality ratings. Good resources are the Agency for Health Care Administration and Medicare Compare.

At Miami Jewish Health, our experienced care teams, guided by board-certified, on-staff physicians and nurse practitioners, are dedicated to providing patient-centered, comprehensive care with round-the-clock assistance.

Our main goal for short-term care is to help our patients fully recover to return to their homes and regular lifestyles. Find out more.


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