Ask the Expert: Understanding the Goals of a Short-term Rehab Center

My father’s physician is recommending a short-term rehab after Dad leaves the hospital. I’m not exactly sure what that entails, and, to be honest, it sounds a little scary! Can you help me understand what I need to know?

-Evelyn in Columbus, OH

Hi Evelyn,

Many central Ohio older adults (or their family members) may not understand the role a rehab center can play in their recovery. The underlying fear for some people is that once they are admitted to a rehab center, they won’t be going home again. In today’s healthcare environment, hospital stays are getting shorter and shorter. Skilled nursing and rehab centers are being used as a transitional step on the journey back home.

Here is what you should know about today’s short-term rehab centers:

  • Your dad will more than likely be surrounded by older adults who are in situations similar to his. They may have undergone a surgery or are recovering from an illness or injury. Each of them has the goal of successfully recovering and returning home.
  • Taking advantage of the Medicare Skilled Nursing & Rehab benefit allows seniors to get back on their feet in a safe, supportive environment. That increases the chance for your father to return home to an active and independent lifestyle.
  • Your father has choices. You and your father can decide which short-term rehab center best meets his needs. The only limitations might be whether or not the center takes his type of insurance and if they have a room available when it is time for him to be discharged from the hospital.
  • Short-term rehab centers have interdisciplinary teams made up of physicians, nurses, therapists and other healthcare professionals. Together, they will develop a plan of care for your dad and meet at least weekly to discuss his progress and make any necessary adjustments to his care plan.
  • Unlike the hospital setting, he won’t be confined to his room while he is working on his recovery. Rehab centers have a variety of programs that take place each day that he can participate in. Some may even include outings to local restaurants and movie theatres.
  • While he is staying in a short-term rehab center, he will be considered a patient, not a resident. That means everyone there understands the goal is for him to rehab and return home.
  • Short-term rehab centers focus on individual goals and progress. Your father will be encouraged not to compare his diagnosis and recovery to anyone else’s. No one’s recovery is the same.
  • The staff welcomes and encourages questions and concerns that you and your father may have. They understand that communication is an important part of staying motivated and feeling positive about  recovery.

Evelyn, I hope this information gives you peace of mind in understanding what comes next on your father’s road to recovery. If you have any other questions, please feel free to give me a call at 614.875.7700.

-Stefanie Hayes, LNHA, Administrator