Getting care at the right short-term care facility after surgery, an illness or an injury can make a big difference in recovery. Short-term care facilities offer temporary inpatient care with a defined outcome for patients who need help rehabilitating, recuperating or regaining mobility or independence before returning home.
But how do you determine which skilled nursing facility fits your needs? The best short-term care facilities share a few common characteristics, and they're offered at a variety of price points, so you should be able to find one that meets your health needs and budget.
Here are four things to look for in a short-term care facility so you can focus on your recovery.
1. Success Rate
It's helpful for prospective patients to know how many of the people who have been through a facility were able to return to their homes and lives after their stay. Though the facility you tour won't be able to give out any specific patient information, they should be able to tell you how many patients returned home after their stay and how long it took them to complete their program. A rehabilitation center that has helped myriad patients get back to independent living will want to share that with you, and comparing success rates can help you decide between similar facilities.
2. Level of Care
Different facilities offer different levels of care, so it's important to research what kind of care your options offer. Some patients might only need access to a little physical therapy and medical care while they're regaining their mobility or independence; others might need more global care, including assistance with daily tasks of living while they recuperate. Depending on your needs, you'll want to know whether the facilities you're looking at offer physical therapy, daily assistance or specialized care. Make sure that you know what kind of care your facility of choice offers and whether there are options for additional care if you need more aid than you'd anticipated.
3. Staff-to-Patient Ratio
The staffing level at a care facility can boost or hinder a successful recovery. In general, the more staff a facility has on hand to meet its patients' needs, the better the outcomes. When researching facilities, ask about the staff-to-patient ratio and how that fits into the care goals for each patient.
In a perfect world, money wouldn't be part of your decision-making process when choosing a short-term care facility. But because the cost of short-term care could cause financial hardship, accounting for that cost is an important part of choosing a facility. Prospective patients who are on Medicare or Medicaid can start by searching the Medicare Nursing Home Comparison database to find accredited facilities that accept Medicare or Medicaid. Patients who are privately insured — such as those who have purchased short- or long-term care insurance — or who are paying out-of-pocket can ask potential care facilities what costs to expect. Some skilled nursing facilities might be able to point you toward financial assistance to help you afford their services.
Good Choice, Good Recovery
Picking the right short-term care facility means you can focus on getting better. Keeping these four issues in mind as you select your skilled nursing care center can give you the confidence that you'll be on the mend and back home — and soon.