5 things to consider when you need after-hospital rehab
Short-term rehabilitation is a great option for patients who need physical therapy, assistance, or relearning or regaining their strength due to any number of health reasons such as injury, illness or personal circumstances.Posted — Updated
Life is filled with ups and downs, and this doesn't exclude your health. If you've been hospitalized – whether you've injured yourself, just had a surgery or you're struggling with a condition – it's likely you'll need some care after you are discharged.
Short-term rehabilitation is a great option for patients who need physical therapy, assistance, or relearning or regaining their strength due to any number of health reasons such as injury, illness or personal circumstances.
Selecting where to get the care you need can understandably breed uncertainty — it can be overwhelming trying to decide where to receive short term care and from whom.
If you need short term rehabilitation and care, consider the following.
Depending on your situation, you'll have needs that should be addressed from the get-go.
Consider the type of short-term rehabilitation therapy you'll need, who can provide it, and if a facility has the right staff and equipment to accommodate those immediate needs.
If you're being discharged from a hospital, it's your right and responsibility to determine where you want to be transferred to receive after-hospital short term rehab.
"Make sure that you'll be able to receive as much therapeutic care as can be comfortably allowed from someone who specializes in the treatment that you need," said Natalie Davis, director of rehabilitation at Hillcrest, an organization that provides rehabilitation to patients in Raleigh and Durham. "It's really simple — more therapy often means a faster recovery. From the first day that patients come to Hillcrest, we make sure that their needs are being met."
Davis suggested not only addressing your immediate needs, but also thinking about what you might need in the future.
Hillcrest, for example, offers services that include post-hospital, inpatient rehabilitative care, outpatient rehab, assisted living, home care and long-term care. Even though you may be going into short-term rehab thinking about what you need right now, you should also consider what you might need down the road.
Davis said choosing a place that has staff, equipment and services in place that allow you to move through the full continuum of senior care services — should you need it — is important.
"It's not always all about what a patient needs today, but also thinking about them in the future. How can they stay with the same company or the same team to kind of see them through the next phase of their health spectrum," Davis said. "The best way to get the best results is to work with the same team throughout your entire recovery. It gives patients a chance to build personal relationships with their therapist and caregivers, so they know you and what you can do comfortably. You're able to trust them to respect your needs and know your limitations."
Research often involves a quick Google search, but when considering where to go for short term care, really dig your heels into finding out all you can about an organization or a facility.
Davis suggested looking at online reviews and talking with people who have received services from the facility. In the healthcare industry, word-of-mouth and recommendations are golden when it comes to vouching for what you can expect.
"Do you know someone that has been through rehab? Maybe your neighbor had their knee operated on and they went through rehab at Hillcrest — ask if they recommend the team," Davis said. "Talking to folks you know and asking people their opinion of what their experiences have been like can really help you in your search to find a program that's the right fit for you."
To make sure you have the time to properly research your options, ask the discharge planner when they plan to discharge you and what type of after-hospital care you'll need. This information is available to you as soon as you're admitted. Otherwise you may not have the time to find the best option available for the care you need.
When it comes to healthcare, the proof is in the pudding. You don't want to go to rehab at a place that just looks great or has fancy equipment — you want a place where every member of the team is providing quality care that is top-notch.
In Davis' professional experience, consistency is key. She said to be mindful of organizations that use contracted agencies to meet all of their staffing needs, and instead opt for a place that has an in-house team of employees who are dedicated to meeting the needs of patients — whether that's physical therapy or specialized therapeutic care that includes things like dietary support.
"You want to make sure that the people who are going to take care of you have lots of experience with the illness or disorder, and experience working with people of your age and condition," Davis advised. "Patients also tend to thrive when they have the same core people working with them everyday to meet their needs, goals, likes, dislikes and preferences. When it's not a different person every day, patients truly get to know their care providers and vice versa."
In the same way you probably would not buy a home or a vehicle without taking an in-person look at them, make sure you or your family do the same when it comes to a short-term rehab facility.
Scheduling a tour of the facility allows you to get a feel for how you will be cared for and what to expect. Familiarizing yourself with the staff and caregivers will also give you an inkling as to how you will interact with your rehab team when you're there.
"Do a tour. Meet people — admissions, a nurse, a therapist — so they've kind of already met you and they say, 'Oh, Mrs. Smith, I remember talking to you a couple of weeks ago before you had your knee done.' You establish a connection this way and will already know some familiar faces," Davis offered. "That streetcar runs both ways — we've laid our eyes on you too. It creates a baseline relationship before patients walk through our doors to begin their short-term rehab."
As Davis pointed out, everyone wants to get through their rehab and get back to their lives as soon as possible. She said to be sure to look for a program that has the same goals.
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