What Is a Convalescent Home?
This term often gets confused with some of the other assisted living or medical housing terms you’ll see during your research. For instance, “Nursing Home” frequently gets confused with “Convalescent Home.” A Convalescent Home offers much more medical care than you’ll find on a regular basis at an Assisted Living home, and offers a different type of care than a Nursing Home.
Convalescent Homes focus their attention primarily on people who are recovering from an injury, surgery or other medical condition, but do not need the level of care that a hospital would provide.
Nursing Homes typically house people who have a more on-going condition that needs consistent care.
On the other hand, a Convalescent Home is essentially the same thing as an Inpatient Rehabilitation Facility (IRF), Skilled Nursing Facility or Rehabilitation Hospital. The goal of each of these facilities is to help an individual through their recovery process and then dispatch them back into their usual living arrangement.
When a Convalescent Home May Be a Good Choice
When Assisted Living, In-Home Caregivers, Nursing Homes, Hospitals and Convalescent Homes are all options for those in need of care or medical attention, you may be wondering which is the right choice for your situation.
A Convalescent Home might be the right choice for you if you’re recovering from:
- A Stroke
- Serious Burns
- Major Multiple Trauma
- Heart Attack
- Spinal Cord Injury
- Congenital Deformity
- Hip Fracture
- Brain Injury
- Neurological Disorders (Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, etc.)
- Arthritis (when consistent outpatient therapy has failed)
- Joint Replacement
As if surgery isn’t enough of an ordeal to go through, many discover that the long journey to recovery from surgery is an even harder process to endure. In this painful and uncomfortable time, the body is trying to regain its normal working rhythm, and it generally refuses to be rushed.
That’s why it is crucial to have a comfortable place to live, thoughtful and skilled medical attention, and professionals who are trained in walking people through specific recovery programs. If your loved one has just had major surgery, suffered a stroke or heart attack, or experienced an intense injury and specialists have told you that in good time they should be able to return to their usual functionality, then a Convalescent Home might just be the right choice for them in this time.
The typical amount of time spent in a Convalescent Home is anywhere from six days to six months.
Benefits of a Convalescent Home
There are many benefits that come with a Convalescent Home stay. Some of the biggest benefits include:
- A Bed
- Consistent Meals
- Laboratory Tests
- Medication Administration
- Nursing Assistant
- Medical Supplies
- Therapy Services
When you’re reviewing a Convalescent Home, be sure to look into the room options to find the best fit for your situation. Some homes have shared room options while others may offer private rooms.
Also, choosing a home that is near to their friends and family plays a huge role in their recovery, because positive visits from those you love will reduce stress, and stress always has negative affects on health.
Customary Staff at Convalescent Homes
At Convalescent Homes you’ll find staff that exhibits a wide variety of skills and specialties.
Some of these professionals you’ll find providing care and services are:
- Case Managers
- Rehab Nurses
- Nursing Assistants
- Physical Therapists
- Occupational Therapists
- Speech Therapists
- Recreational Therapists
- Cleaning Staff
Each staff member has a unique and important role to play in a patient’s comfort and recovery.
For instance, the nurse will most likely be a primary point of contact, offering information about the daily schedule and consistent care throughout the day.
The physician will make sure that recovery is on track, administer procedures requiring greater expertise, and authorize changes in a patient’s care plan.
Physical Therapists will lead the patient through a repetitive program of exercises to help recuperate any lost muscle strength, nerve responsiveness, or range of movement in the body.
Dieticians will ensure that the food served contains the proper proteins and nutrients for a speedy recovery.
Clergy or counselors will tend to the emotions of the patient, so they are at ease about their recovery process.
Administration staff ensures that there is clear communication between the patient (and his or her family) and insurance providers, and that the whole operation is running like a well-oiled machine. They will likely be your first point of contact when you call in to get more information about the facility, and should have a broad knowledge base of their facility and services to answer any questions and concerns you may have.
Types of Convalescent Homes
You’ll find that there are usually two different types of Convalescent Home to choose from, depending on the specific care they give.
Sub-Acute – Sub-acute care assists patients who have received acute care and need further medical or rehabilitation care. This could be for someone who is still recovering from an injury or surgery and needs assistance and care before they reintegrate into their usual living situation.
Post-Acute – This type of Convalescent Home caters more to people who are transitioning from the hospital back into their homes. This can include home nursing and home health care.
The schedule of each day that a patient spends at a Convalescent Home depends largely on the care plan they have created with the help of their physician and other key professionals in the recovery process. Once this has been determined, you’ll soon find the pattern of the week fairly formulaic, with time for check-ups, rehabilitation sessions, etc.
Some of the therapy that a patient may find within their weekly schedules may include:
- Physical Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
- Speech Therapy
- Psychologist Sessions
Physical Therapy deals largely with muscles that have been affected by injuries or surgeries. Whether it’s rebuilding a muscle that has been damaged or simply building a patient’s strength back up, physical therapists take their patients through consistent routines to get them back walking, using their limbs, and performing other functions that affect range of motion and physical actions.
Occupational Therapy is geared to get the patient back to independence in their daily life. Often after an injury or surgery, there are many basic functions you are no longer able to do on your own. Tasks such as walking, using the restroom, communicating, or getting in and out of bed are all activities that may need assistance. Occupational Therapy identifies which of these a patient needs to regain mastery of, and helps lead them through the process of building those skills that are so foundational in our lives.
If the brain or nervous system has been damaged or affected by injury or surgery, then Speech Therapy may be required. There are few things more frustrating then losing your ability to communicate effectively, and speech therapists are there to bring that ability back as soon as possible.
Health issues are often tied to emotional issues, which is why Psychologist Sessions are such an important part of the recovery process. If a patient is struggling with impatience as they convalesce, they could sabotage their own road to independence by refusing to continue. Or if they are depressed because of things they feel they are missing out on in life, it can also affect their health by dampening their mood or appetite, as could other side effects related to stress and depression. A healthy body is directly tied to a healthy mind, making the psychology aspect of therapy a huge part of the recovery journey.
Another big difference between a Convalescent Home and an Assisted Living Facility is that charges are typically billed per day. This supports the short-term goal of Convalescent Home living, versus the continual care and living support that ALFs seek to provide for an on-going basis.
Because services and medications are billed per day just like a hospital, this can start to add up quickly. If you’re like many others out there, paying these kinds of fees is not an easy thing to do.
Whether it’s for one week or one month, this can add a heavy burden to anyone’s budget or drain their savings quickly. Of course, the best route is to always “save for a rainy day” and prepare for these kinds of future needs, but there are other ways to help pay for a Convalescent Home stay if the savings simply aren’t there.
Some other payment options:
- Veteran’s Affairs Benefits
- Private Insurance
- Employer Insurance
- Workers Compensation
Medicare is a great option but is still limited. Only the first 100 days within this type of facility are covered under Medicare policies – and only the first 20 days are fully covered, with the next 80 days being covered 80%. This also doesn’t include living care such as assisting the patient with feeding, bathing and the like.
Medicaid is another option to look into, especially if the patient is in the low income bracket. A skilled nursing facility like a Convalescent Home would be almost completely covered. In order to qualify for coverage, the patient must find a facility that is certified by the state survey agency as a Medicaid Nursing Facility.
VA benefits may also cover a patient if they have served their country in the armed forces. Standard VA Medical benefits may include Geriatric Evaluation to assess care needs, adult day health care, respite care, and skilled home care such as a Convalescent Home. A veteran may be eligible for VA coverage of a Convalescent Home stay if they:
- Have a service-connected disability rating of 70% or above
- Have a 60 % service-connected disability rating and are unemployable, or have a rating of “permanent and totally disabled”
- Have a service-connected disability which is clinically decided to require nursing home care
- Require nursing home care for a non-service-connected disability and who meet income and asset criteria
- Have been assessed and authorized on a case-by-case basis (with priority given to veterans with service-connected disabilities and those who need care for post-acute rehabilitation, respite, hospice, geriatric evaluation, or spinal cord injuries)
Private insurance may provide options such as Long-Term Care Insurance, which covers care for those who are elderly or chronically ill and in need of progressive levels of care in Assisted Living Facilities or Nursing Homes. Care that is covered by LTCI can include care communities or care at an individual’s home. This option is rarely useful in a crunch however. The best way to utilize LTCI is to get it as early as possible, even while you’re in your 40s and still in good health.
If you have worked for a great company with good health benefits, the best route for you may be to utilize the coverage provided by their insurance provider. If the need for a Convalescent Home is related to a work injury, workers compensation could also take care of the costs, so be sure to look into your employer health insurance and benefits first.
When it comes to making sure that you or your loved one is taken care of, it’s worth putting in the effort and researching the best options available. Skilled certified nursing staff and a clean and well-managed facility will play a larger role in your life than you may think.
After a surgery or injury, so many pieces of life feel like they come to a screeching halt. The goal is to get you back on your feet and into your usual routine as quickly as possible, and only a Convalescent Home that is skilled and reliable will do this in a way that caters to your physical health, emotional health, and personal road to recovery.
If the process of finding the right facility or payment option is overwhelming to you – as it is for many people – bring your family and friends along to help you. You never know, it may just take a fresh perspective or extra pair of hands to help steer you the direction, or lighten the load that could lead to rushed or uninformed decisions. Get informed, get care, and get well!