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Post-Hospital Care: Should I Choose Home Health or Short-Term Stays?

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An extended hospital stay can take a major toll on your body. Although you may be counting the minutes until you get back home, many doctors recommend rehabilitation for seniors once they’re discharged from the hospital following a significant medical event.

In some cases, rehabilitation can be managed through home health, but in other cases, a brief stay at a short-term rehabilitation center may be better for your long-term health and safety.


Why do I need short-term rehabilitation?

After a medical event, like an illness, injury, or surgery, you may require rehab to manage pain, restore strength, and improve your mobility.


What kind of therapy will I receive?

Depending on your personal needs, rehab usually includes three main areas of therapy. As part of your discharge planning discussions, your doctor may recommend that you participate in one or all of them.

Physical therapy, as the name suggests, is intended to help improve your physical abilities by focusing on rebuilding your strength, balance, endurance, and range of motion. Your physical therapist may also guide you through exercises or movements that help reduce pain and break down scar tissue.

Occupational therapy helps you perform activities of daily living, like grooming, eating, and moving safely throughout your home. This may involve relearning how to do familiar tasks, finding new ways to get things done, or practicing how to use adaptive equipment that makes certain jobs easier.

Speech therapy focuses on ensuring you are able to express yourself clearly and consistently. It can also help address cognitive issues with exercises that challenge your critical thinking, memory, and other brain functions.


Is home health or short-term rehab better?

Determining whether you can successfully complete your rehabilitation at home or in a short-term care facility depends on many highly personal factors.

Local availability: Is there a home care service in your area that has qualified therapists available to provide care at the frequency your doctor recommended?

Equipment: Does the post-hospital care your doctor recommended require special equipment? If so, can it be brought into your home? While some smaller equipment is easily transported, if your rehabilitation program will require larger exercise equipment and therapeutic devices, you may be better off choosing short-term rehab services through a nearby retirement community.

Space: Is there room within your home to complete the therapy you need? For example, if you live in a small home, you may not be able to walk adequate distances to build endurance, whereas in a short-term rehab center, you have access to large rooms and long hallways. In addition, depending on your rehabilitation needs, you may encounter obstacles that prevent you from accessing certain parts of the house, such as an upstairs bedroom.

Cost: In many cases, following hospitalization for a major illness, surgery, or injury, your insurance provider will only cover post-hospital care in specific settings. While home health care may be more affordable in the short term, studies have shown a lower readmission rate for patients who complete their rehabilitation in a skilled nursing setting rather than home health care.

Frequency: How rigorous is the rehabilitation program your doctor is recommending? If you’ll be participating in multiple therapy sessions each day, you may find it easier to stick to that schedule in a short-term rehab facility than at home.

Privacy: Are you comfortable having strangers in your home? While home health personnel all undergo thorough background checks, not everyone is comfortable having a steady rotation of people you don’t know intruding on your sanctuary.

Complications: What kinds of problems could you encounter once you leave the hospital? Would you benefit from having someone who is trained to monitor your progress and notice problems like infections or other complications before they become a major threat?

Daily Activities: Do you feel strong enough to resume your regular routine at home, either by yourself or with limited help? After a hospital stay, you may tire easily, making it difficult to do simple things like dressing or bathing. In a short-term rehab community, you can expect help with those things, as well as nutritious meals and companionship while you work on getting back to your normal self.


Not a Resident? Not to Worry!

In addition to peace of mind, Springpoint Choice membership comes with many other perks, like access to LivWell, our award-winning personal wellness program, and a spectrum of services when you need them. If you find yourself in need of a senior rehabilitation center, all it takes is a single phone call to your personal care navigator to arrange care at any of the Springpoint communities near you.