What is Subacute Care and Rehabilitation?
Understanding Subacute Care and When It’s Needed
After a major illness or surgery, your doctor may recommend a type of senior rehabilitation called subacute care. But what is subacute care and what is its goal? Subacute care is a less time-intensive form of physical therapy to help you regain the ability to do the activities of daily living – eating, bathing, getting dressed, pain management and more. The goal of subacute care is to help you regain your independence and return home.
This post will cover who provides subacute care and give you tips on how to select the best provider for yourself or a loved one.
Who provides subacute care?
Hospitals can provide subacute rehab on their campus, or have a partnership with a stand-alone rehab community. You may also choose a senior rehabilitation center, which typically offers subacute care along with skilled nursing in a homelike environment. In general, a senior subacute rehab center will be significantly more affordable than a hospital. Plus, they feature a staff of specially trained physical therapists and nurses who will work with you and your physician to create a personalized plan to help you get back to doing what you love to do. Reasons for subacute care include:
- Post-surgical care
- Continued medical care (medically complex)
- Infusion therapy
- Wound care
- Pain management
- Ventilator care and weaning
Once a plan is created, licensed physical, occupational and speech therapists will work with you to increase your strength and functioning. They could work with you to improve your balance, help you move your legs again after a stroke, improve your cardio fitness after a heart attack, and more.
A variety of factors go into determining how long you could be at subacute rehab center:
- The extent of your injuries or medical condition
- Your overall health
- The amount of time your insurance approves for you to stay
- Your ability to care for yourself and live safely on you own
How do I choose a subacute care provider?
Where you rehab can make a big difference in your results and how quickly you can return home. For example, after a stroke, you may want to choose a provider that has experience with your condition and a history of excellent outcomes. (The place you choose should be able to provide you with statistics to back up their track record.)
If your surgery is planned, it’s a good idea to discuss discharge arrangements with your doctor or hospital in the weeks leading up to your surgery. They can tell you what to expect from your recovery, and if you’ll be able to go straight home or will need subacute rehab.
If your hospital stay is unplanned, you or your family should discuss discharge arrangements while you’re still in the hospital. Most hospitals will have someone who handles discharge planning.
In general, all subacute rehab centers must be licensed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). This licensing process includes regular on-site surveys to verify compliance with regulatory health requirements and safety codes. CMS also uses their surveys to provide a 5-Star rating system on skilled nursing communities and health centers. Comparing the ratings of different communities can give you a good thumbnail of the quality of care they provide.
Another place to start is with recommendations from loved ones or friends who’ve already been through this process. They can give you a personal perspective that you won’t find in a star rating.
Once you narrow down your possibilities, and if you have time, it’s a good idea to tour a few places. Seeing how the staff interacts with their rehab clients can be an important indicator of the quality of care provided. The program and people caring for you or your loved one should influence you more than how a community looks.
Here are some questions you’ll also want to ask before you decide:
- Do they have a care protocol for people with your medical condition?
- Do they have physical therapists on-site?
- Will you see the same one or two therapists most days?
- Do they provide therapy every day, including Saturday and Sunday?
- How long does a therapy session last?
- If your primary care provider or surgeon doesn’t visit the community, is there a provider who will be in charge of your care?
- Will the staff train you, your family and/or caregivers on what care you’ll need at home?
Ultimately, where you receive subacute care can have a big impact on your recovery and overall lifestyle. We hope you now have a better idea of what subacute rehab is and how to find a community that will best suit your needs.