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Where’s the Best Place to Recover?

Determining best place for senior loved one to recover
There are many important factors and issues to consider before your loved one is discharged from the hospital.

Find home care near you or your loved one:

Mary has been looking forward to the day when her mother can make it home from the hospital. Mom wants to go back to her own house and Mary would like her to be there as well. Starting early will help Mary and her mother make a successful transition back home.

Discharge Planning Starts Early

If you are fulfilling a caregiving role similar to Mary's with a senior loved one, your first step is to have a meeting with the appropriate hospital staff – often a case manager or discharge planner – and let them know you would like to be involved in aftercare planning, including where your loved one will go upon discharge from the hospital.

Key issues to discuss with the discharge planner include:

  • Expected date of discharge
  • An explanation of the skill level required to provide the necessary level of care
  • Staff recommendations for discharge options
  • List of providers for aftercare
  • List of resources for additional information and support

Options for Services and Rehabilitation After a Hospital Stay

There are three primary aftercare or rehabilitation options available and each has its own rules, regulations and entrance requirements.

  1. Inpatient: Nursing facility/rehabilitation hospital

    An inpatient option can be necessary if your loved one's doctor orders inpatient services or if your family member will benefit from specialist treatment following the hospital stay, such as intensive physical or speech therapy.

    Time spent in a skilled nursing facility or rehabilitation center typically lasts for weeks not months, and if continued assistance is required beyond the inpatient stay, it usually takes place at home or an outpatient center.

  2. Home: Certified home health care agency or in-home health care services

    If your family member only needs part-time or intermittent rehabilitation or skilled health care services such as wound care or monitoring of medications and equipment, then home health care may be the right option for them. Depending upon need, care can be provided by nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants or certified home health aides.

    Making the decision to use outside help for caring for an elderly loved one isn't always easy, but there are a wealth of senior care resources for you to consider. Often, depending upon your family member's needs, a trained home care companion could assist with mobility, medication reminders and special dietary issues. In addition, these caregivers will be able to provide you the peace of mind of knowing that your loved one is safely at home. You can find more information about the different types of home care from the Home Care Solution Guide (PDF).

  3. Outpatient: Rehabilitation center or adult day health center

    If your family member's rehabilitation needs are not acute and do not require inpatient services then he or she may be able to take advantage of outpatient services. An individual recovering must be able to travel in order for his or her after care needs to be met by an outpatient rehabilitation center or an adult day health center. Typically outpatient rehabilitation centers provide physical, occupational and speech and language therapy.

A senior might require additional services beyond those provided at the rehabilitation center. Often, a combination of outpatient rehabilitation services and in-home care services work well in this scenario. For example, caregivers provided by an in-home senior care agency like your local Home Instead® office could assist with transportation to rehabilitation and other home care needs such as dressing, meal preparation, and medication monitoring. Also keep in mind that it is common for top rehabilitation facilities to have waiting lists so it is important to start early to find a center that will accept your loved one when he or she is ready to be discharged.

Guidelines: Family Caregivers and Post-Discharge Issues

There are many important factors and issues to consider before your loved one is discharged from the hospital. Here are just a few to consider:

  • What level of skilled nursing care or specialist rehabilitation services are required and for how long?

  • Are these after care services covered by Medicare or other insurers and if so, for how long?

  • Does your loved one need fulltime/around the clock, daily or intermittent care?

  • Will transportation be a factor for both inpatient and outpatient options? Consider issues such as the location of the center, length of travel time, parking, stairs and if travelling tends to cause your loved one to experience confusion or anxiety.

  • Does the facility (outpatient or inpatient) have extended hours of operation, convenient visiting hours and are meals/snacks provided?

As the primary family caregiver there are also many personal factors for you to consider as well, including:

  • How much time do you have to help out?

  • Will you need to take time off from work?

  • Do you have a back-up caregiver in the event of an emergency?

  • Are you physically able to lift or move your family member?

  • Can you handle additional tasks such as picking up medicine and taking care of your loved one's home?

We encourage you to work with your loved one's medical providers to determine which post-discharge care option is best. Knowing what options are available and weighing each against your loved one's desires and needs can help you make a well-informed decision that will help to ensure a successful recovery.

Download the Returning Home guide.

Download the Canadian Edition of the Returning Home: Transitional Care Guide

Last revised: April 20, 2012

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Thoughts and stories from others
  1. April 3, 2014 at 9:04 pm | Posted by Bryan Mierau

    One option not mentioned is the possibility of a respite stay at a licensed residential care facility (assisted living). This home-like setting provides 24-hour hands-on support with personal care and can be coupled with home health therapy and nursing services. Indiana regulations allow for up to a four-week stay. This option is particularly attractive to one who has not met the 3-day inpatient hospital requirement that would lead to a Medicare-paid stay in a skilled nursing facility, or, their simply is not enough support at home to meet post-hospital care needs--even with home health assistance.


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