When an older adult is hospitalized following a surgery, an injury or an illness, they may require a stay in a short-term rehabilitation center before they are able to safely return home. Skilled nursing and rehab centers allow patients to continue their recovery and transition toward independence with the assistance of a nursing and therapy staff. These rehab centers often offer a more comfortable, relaxed environment.

If your loved one needs to be transferred to a short-term rehab center, you will likely need to help them decide which one best meets their needs. Doing your homework and making a smart decision is crucial. Care that doesn’t meet your senior’s needs could delay their recovery. Quality, patient-centered care can promote faster healing, while giving families peace of mind that they are in safe hands.

Beginning the Search for a Short-term Rehab Partner

Start your search by consulting with the social worker or discharge planner from the hospital where your loved one is a patient. He or she can provide you with a Medicare-approved list of skilled nursing and rehab centers in your area. You can also do a web-search and ask friends for referrals. Once you have a list of possibilities, narrow down your choices based on the following criteria:

Ratings and certifications: The federal government’s Medicare Nursing Home Compare rates nursing homes and rehab centers based on health inspections, staffing, amenities, and quality measures. Search by zip code and use their online database to track rehab centers to consider based on quality scores and the distance from your home. You can even create your own comparison chart.

Your Senior’s Needs: Consult your loved one’s physician and hospital social worker to determine the type of care your senior requires. All short-term rehab centers offer help with day-to-day activities like bathing, dressing, and medications. But some are not equipped for patients in need of speech therapy or for patients who need more intensive physical rehabilitation.

Therapy Methods: Call or visit short-term rehab centers to learn more about their approach to transitional care. How much and what type of therapies are offered? How many times a day will your loved one see a physical therapist? How long are the sessions? Look for a center that provides 1-3 hours of therapy each day in one or two sessions, including weekends. Rehab centers that progressively extend the frequency and length of therapy are more likely to aid your loved one’s full recovery.

Price and Insurance: Make sure the rehab centers on your list are Medicare and/or Medicaid-approved for payment. If your senior has private insurance, confirm that the center accepts it. You may also want to inquire about private pay rates. If Medicare coverage ends before you are ready to take your senior home, you may be forced to pay if you want to extend their stay.

Location: A rehab center that is located close to friends and family may increase the likelihood of visitors, which might help keep your loved one’s spirits up and hasten their recovery.

Services: Does the rehab center have a social worker on staff? Is laundry service included? Are there enriching activities for your senior, such as crafts projects and religious services? Is there a hair salon on site? Is there a garden or outdoor area where your loved one can enjoy fresh air?

Transitioning Home After a Rehab Stay

Once your loved one is admitted to a short-term rehab, it is time to start planning for the next step—their arrival home. It might also be a good time to start a conversation with your loved one about the future. Heritage Senior Communities offers many care options tailored to the needs of older adults across Michigan, including independent living, assisted living and specialized dementia care.