Last updated July 2, 2019
Now with a printable checklist download!
Originally posted May 24, 2014
Skilled nursing or short-term subacute rehabilitation facilities are environments where people can carefully build up their strength after a surgery, illness, or medical episode. They're a place to work with physical, occupational, and/or speech therapies until a person is ready to return home and resume normal life. Perhaps you’ve heard about a friend or neighbor going for a short rehab stay, or maybe you have a personal experience with it.
Short-term rehabilitation facilities allow a person to heal, recover, and regain strength through physical, occupational, and speech therapies.
Sometimes, when someone plans an elective surgery or procedure, they may anticipate the need for short-term rehabilitation afterwards and take the time to consider where they'll go.
Other times, the need for rehabilitation comes after an unexpected medical event, which can add to the overwhelm. Your doctor recommends you go to rehab instead of home after your hospital stay, so the hospital discharge planner presents you with a list of four centers in your area and asks where you would like to go. What now?
Depending on where you live, chances are you have a few centers in your area to choose from. Whether you have the luxury of time to pre-arrange your rehab stay before an elective surgery or whether you send out family or friends as "scouts" to look into a few places for you before you're discharged from the hospital, it can be confusing and daunting.
We recommend going yourself or asking a friend or family member to set foot in all the centers you’re considering to get a true feel for the place. They'll be more than happy to show you around so you can see how things work and what to expect.
When you head in to learn more, here are 10 questions we recommend getting answers to. Want a printable format with room to take notes? Click here!
- Are there currently any openings for a new patient?
And if not today or tomorrow, are there anticipated discharges?
- Is my insurance accepted here and what steps do I need to take ahead of time to ensure coverage?
They'll know if they're in network for your, or can find out. You may need them to initiate preapproval before your transfer.
- Does the staff specialize in any particular areas?
For example: wound care, cardiovascular, orthopedic... insert your needs here, if applicable.
- How much therapy do patients receive?
While it's going to be dependent on your individualized care plan, you can inquire about how many days per week or typical number of sessions per day.
- What is the staff to patient ratio?
You can inquire about how many Registered Nurses, Licensed Practical Nurses, and Certified Nursing Assistants are on each shift compared to patient capacity.
- What types of treatment team members will be active with my recovery?
Aside from the nursing team, will I have a social worker, recreation therapist, chaplain, or others?
- What can be expected about the transition from hospital to rehab?
Will someone from the therapy team greet me to complete an assessment right away? Will I likely have a quiet afternoon and evening until getting started the next day? How will my visitors find me that first day?
- What items should be brought with and what is provided?
You'll find that the center likely provides most amenities from towels to a loaner laptop, but double check for any must-haves that you'll want to bring from home.
- How are regular care planning meetings scheduled and are family members invited to participate in person or via a video conference?
Care planning should begin from the day you arrive, and it's important you can involve loved ones if you wish.
- Does the center offer outpatient therapy and/or what's their process for helping set up in-home services if needed after the rehab stay is complete?
This will be crucial to know as you plan for life after short-term rehab.
If you have other questions that are particularly important to you and your family, we cannot stress enough to ask away. Any center will be happy to answer your questions as best they can ahead of time. Perhaps you’re curious about the policy on pets visiting, if an overnight guest is permitted, or what hours the dining room is open. Don’t be shy about getting answers that will help you make the best decision for you or your loved one.
Does the environment at the rehabilitation center feel comfortable and warm to you?
Most of all, take note of your gut feelings about each place. You’ll notice how you felt when you set foot in the doors. Were you greeted warmly? Did the staff smile in the halls? Did people seem content? Were common areas clean and free of odors?
When you’ve decided on a center, we recommend verifying the best way to contact patients via telephone and where friends or family can send mail. Additionally, make sure appropriate emergency contact information has been communicated and ask for the names and contact info of integral team members at the center, from the social worker to the billing office.
Once you’ve made your decision, the best part is next – focusing on healing and recovering.
If you find you have other questions about short-term rehabilitation, we’re always happy to be a resource. Contact us at 800.848.5306.