What is short-term rehabilitation?

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By Angela Penny

Short-term rehabilitation facilities provide therapy for individuals recovering from a surgery, illness or accident. Generally, those needing short-term, in-patient rehabilitation may remain involved in their program at a facility for as little as a couple of days to as many as several weeks.

Short-term rehabilitation programs help patients achieve their maximum functional capacity and get back to their homes and community in the shortest time possible. To achieve this goal, patients receive physical, occupational and speech therapy from compassionate and highly skilled therapists. Therapists are part of a team that includes physicians, nurses, social workers and nutritionists, who work with the patient and family members to develop an individualized care plan.

To ensure a smooth transition to home, rehabilitation facilities will assist with setting up home care services. Most facilities provide six to seven days a week of rehabilitation. When choosing a facility, call and ask for a tour.

If you have Medicare coverage you will need to qualify for skilled care in order for Medicare to pay for short-term rehabilitation.

What is skilled care? Skilled care is health care given when you need skilled nursing or rehabilitation staff to treat, manage, observe and evaluate your care. Examples of skilled care include intravenous injections and physical therapy. It is given in a skilled nursing facility (SNF). Care that can be given by non-professional staff isn’t considered skilled care. People don’t usually stay in a SNF until they are completely recovered. Medicare covers certain skilled care services that are needed daily on a short-term basis (up to 100 days). Skilled care requires the involvement of skilled nursing or rehabilitative staff in order to be given safely and effectively.

Skilled nursing and rehabilitation staff includes registered nurses, licensed practical and vocational nurses, physical and occupational therapists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists. Many private insurance plans and HMO’s have short-term rehabilitation benefits as well. Look at your individual policy for specifics regarding coverage.

Angela Penny, COTA, is director of admissions & marketing for Holy Trinity Nursing & Rehabilitation Center (a non-profit community owned and managed healthcare facility) located at 300 Barber Ave., Worcester. She can be reached at 508-852-1000 or 508-341-7170 (mobile) for information, to schedule a tour or patient screening. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvocate.comk