A convalescent home is a facility tailored to fit the needs of those elderly who are recovering from an illness or operation. These homes offer much more sophisticated care than nursing homes or other caring facilities. The convalescent home provides hospital-grade intensive care for patients in need and the treatment offered there is usually developed and overseen by a physician. In this article, we hope to give you the ultimate guide to convalescent homes.
What is a Convalescent Home?
The word “convalescent” defines a person who requires special care after an injury, illness, or surgery. The purpose of such a home is to help a person with rehabilitation and to decide when they can return to their typical lifestyle and everyday activities. To determine whether this facility is the proper environment for your elderly loved one, it is important to understand exactly what a convalescent home is.
One of the main differences between a nursing home and a convalescent home is the purpose of each. A convalescent home is a facility that provides short-term care to people in need of rehabilitation, while a nursing home for long-term care for elderly or disabled individuals.
Rehabilitation therapy is the main service provided by convalescent homes. Whether it is physical, occupational, or speech therapy, the facility can offer specific treatment for each special case. Overall, the fundamental function of convalescent homes is to help a person recover their strength, be healthy, and go back to living a more independent lifestyle. The healing process after surgery, illness, or injury can be tedious. The homes provide a unique environment that supports the patients and aid their recovery.
Convalescent homes are often also referred to as Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRF). Some patients can return home after surgery; sadly, this is not the case for all of them. Elderly patients may require additional supervision and it is quite often the case that family members are unable to care for them alone. If your loved ones can no longer handle day-to-day activities such as preparing meals, getting dressed, taking out the garbage, etc. due to an injury, you should consider a convalescent home to make sure that their everyday needs are met.
Facts about Convalescent Homes
There are more than 1,200 IRFs in all 50 states. Based on a Medpac.gov study, 40% of patients are admitted due to a broken lower extremity, 11% after joint replacement surgery, 20% are recovering from a stroke and the rest need rehabilitation because of other conditions.
The typical length of stay at these facilities is 13 days. Approximately 70% of the patients return home and those that were not discharged usually go to an assisted living facility or a nursing home. Of those patients that were discharged, 50% still require at-home care.
What Are the Typical Services?
Services provided by IRFs vary between each facility but there are several that most homes have in common:
- Individual case management
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech and language therapy
- Cognitive therapy
- Recreational therapy
- Professional 24-hour nursing care
- Vocational rehab
- Social services
- Psychologist services
- Orthotic and prosthetic services
- Access to necessary medicaments
- Counseling for correct nutrition
- Religious services
- Transportation services
Nursing Home vs. Convalescent Home
There are many similarities between an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility and a nursing home but it is important to note that these two are distinct facilities that offer fundamentally different services.
A convalescent home employs staff with medical training who can deliver short-term care. People who are advised to go to an IRF are recovering from an injury, illness, or surgery. The main purpose of these homes is to return the person to their healthy state so that they can go back to their day-to-day activities without assistance. Usually, after receiving such care and recovering to a sufficient degree, patients go back to their homes where they can resume their lifestyle as before. Nursing homes offer similar services as IRFs but they are specifically for patients who need to remain there for a long time.
Financial Aspects of a Convalescent Home
When deciding on a home, the financial aspects of the senior’s stay are some of the most important things to consider. Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance companies will usually cover the services provided at a convalescent home. Though it is important to remember that each policy will be different. Your elderly loved one will have some out-of-pocket costs but according to the Medicare website, insurance will cover everything for the first 60 days of the senior’s stay. Following the 60 days, patients will have to pay a daily copay (approximately $341 coinsurance each day.). After 100 days, Medicare payments usually stop completely.
If your elderly loved one requires a semi-private room, meals, social worker and nursing services, medication and medical supplies, and rehab/therapy services, Medicare will cover all of the above. Private and commercial insurance plans will have their policies but they will most likely be similar to the terms listed above. Still, we would encourage you to consult your insurance company before deciding on a home.
Is a Convalescent Home Right for Your Loved One?
Deciding whether your loved one requires special care provided by a convalescent home requires understanding exactly what their needs are. If it is no longer possible for them to perform everyday mundane tasks in their own home or even if it makes them uncomfortable, you may want to consider a facility that will be able to aid them in their needs and also help them recover and return to their usual lifestyle.
How to Choose a Convalescent Home
After you decide to use the services that a convalescent home offers, you should ask your family doctor’s office for specific recommendations. Then, you should consider taking the following steps:
1. Determine the senior’s exact medical needs.
Before admitting your loved one to a facility you should consult a medical professional and make sure that an IRF is your best option. As mentioned above, an inpatient rehabilitation facility is for patients that need serious inpatient rehabilitation. If your loved one has a minor condition that requires only basic support, even a simple nursing facility may be more useful. For specific conditions (chronic disease, diabetes, etc.) you can choose facilities based on the special type of accommodation that they provide for such cases.
2. Make sure that your insurance covers your senior’s stay.
Considering the payment options in advance while selecting an IRF can make your life much easier. It is vital to know exactly how much your insurance policy will cover. In most cases, when a physician determines that a patient requires IRF care, most policies will cover at least part of the stay, but since insurance companies have different terms, you should consult your contract. It is also important to ensure that the care facility of your choice accepts your insurance. This way you can avoid a lot of tedious work and pick the best option for your loved one.
3. Choose facilities according to their quality measures.
Important indicators for the level of care and quality of rehabilitation your loved one will receive at a convalescent home are its quality measures. For example, how many patients at a given home recovered during their stay, how many were sent back to the hospital, how many of them had an accident (e.g. fall) at the facility, etc. All of this information will give you a better sense of the environment where your loved one will live, making the process easier.
4. See the locations yourself.
If you have the chance, you should visit the facility yourself first. This way, you can judge whether the environment is clean enough, if they have enough entertainment options, supervision is adequate, etc. You could even talk to the employees and patients about their own experiences. Don’t be afraid to ask staff members about their ways of handling complex situations. In some cases, it is not possible to visit the location, but you can always look up video tours or pictures of the facility on the internet before you make the arrangements.
If you are someone who is just now learning about IRFs or a caregiver planning to utilize the services of a convalescent home for their elderly loved one, we hope that this article has been helpful for you. For more information, feel free to visit the source materials below.
- Nursing Homes and Related Facilities: A Review of the Literature, Edward Eagle, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4593384?seq=1
- The origins and development of Scottish convalescent homes, Jenny Cronin, http://theses.gla.ac.uk/2316/1/2003croninphd.pdf
- Convalescent Home to Make a Comeback, David Brindle, https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2000/feb/03/davidbrindle
- Inpatient Rehabilitation Care, Medicare.gov, https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/inpatient-rehabilitation-care