The impact for recovery and future quality of life is defined by the Skilled Nursing Facility you select for post hospital rehabilitation.  The right rehabilitation team is a critical component to your transition back home.

For those with orthopedic injuries, joint replacement, stroke and neurological conditions, cardiac-related challenges, wound care, oncology care, pulmonary impairment and diabetes management, choosing the right rehabilitation team is the best way home after a hospital stay.

The role of a Skilled Nursing Home, SNH, has significantly changed.  In the past, care was primarily provided for chronically ill or disabled seniors.  Today, the role of a SNH has expanded to include a rehabilitation center – which once was the hospital's responsibility.

Maximizing recovery and having a chance of returning home to a meaningful lifestyle boils down to the rehab team.  Just as a parent would interview candidates to find the best daycare for their child, it is important to tour rehab facilities to find the right fit.  Undoubtedly, cleanliness and safety are relevant criteria; however, rehabilitation goes beyond aesthetics. 

When selecting a skilled nursing facility with rehabilitation services, ask the Administrator, Director of Nursing or Social Services Liaison specifics about rehabilitation outcomes.  Find a SNH that has:

1.  Strong track record for rehabilitation success using quantifiable data.  From admission to discharge, therapists will be able to show the amount of progress patients make through rehabilitation and how many patients have been treated for a specific condition.

2.  An array of different equipment.  To properly train the brain and body, it is beneficial to have a variety of approaches.  Utilizing different equipment each day helps a person strengthen different parts of the body for overall improvement.

3.  Consistency & longevity of staff.  Low turnover means that the staff is not starting over each day, trying to learn what the patient needs.  It is a seamless transition that builds on the patient's progress toward being able to care for his/herself.  Experienced therapists are a deep resource of skills and knowledge.

4.  Nursing and therapy staff that work together.  It's a natural flow of care when therapists and care-takers work together.  Everyone is on the same page, which allows the nursing staff to encourage patients to practice skills they've learned tin therapy during routine activities such as bathing, dressing, eating and personal hygiene.

5.  Has an actual kitchen to practice skills.  For those with higher independent skills, they can simulate cooking and laundry tasks.  For instance, when preparing a meal, they can practice placement of a walker when reaching into a cupboard or an oven.

6.  Offer home assessments.  Therapists help patients and families prepare to manage care at home.

During rehabilitation, there are 3 different therapies available for a patient:  physical, occupational and speech.  Through speech therapy, cognition and swallowing are areas of focus.  The ability to communicate allows a person to say what a person needs, even if they can't physically do it.  Most people appreciate the importance of mobility, such as the ability to walk; which is part of physical therapy.  However, what prevents most people from going home with the assistance of a caregiver is the patient's ability to complete his/her own toilet hygiene.  Occupational therapy focuses on getting someone to return to the previous level of function in daily living such as: bathing, dressing and grooming.  An advanced level of therapy includes restoring the ability to shop, cook and clean.

Maplewood in Sauk City, WI, is a proven leader in rehabilitation.  All three therapies are available to  help restore a patient's previous level of independence.

About Paul Fiscus

Paul Fiscus is the director of Maplewood of Sauk Prairie.