Inpatient rehabilitation is a team effort. The close collaboration between all the different professionals involved with inpatient rehabilitation can be a key factor in helping patients recover more quickly. If you’ve ever felt curious about how the people in your inpatient rehabilitation facility are working to contribute to your recuperation – or if you’re interested in working in rehab yourself - this article is for you. We’ll take a detailed look at the varied roles that make up an inpatient rehab team, as well as what makes each of them significant.
Licensed Practical Nursing and Registered Nursing
In an inpatient rehab facility, the nursing staff are vital in supporting the patient in their recovery. They are responsible for helping patients manage their physical limitations, follow their customized care plan, and comply with their treatment program. They may give patients their medications, change dressings, treat wounds, or help with day-to-day activities.
Nurses also often help patients understand their condition better and learn ways to manage everyday tasks independently. Both Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and Registered Nurses (RNs) are involved in increasing their patients’ comfort levels and quality of life. The main difference is that the training program for Registered Nurses is longer – a minimum of a two-year or three-year degree. They therefore have more extensive responsibilities and may also be employed in hospital settings.
Certified Nursing Assistant
Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) help patients in inpatient rehab facilities and other medical settings with daily activities and other healthcare needs, under the direct supervision of a Registered Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse. For some, the role of CNA may be a way of gaining real-world experience of the medical profession or evaluating if they want to qualify as an RN or LPN.
For others, the entry process for nursing school may prove too demanding, and a CNA qualification may be a great way to get into the healthcare profession. In Alabama, for instance, there is a nursing shortage and thousands of open nursing jobs, but thousands of applicants are turned away from nursing school every year. The CNA program can be an excellent solution to ensure patient needs are being met.
The physical therapist is a critical member of the inpatient rehab team. Physical therapists (or PTs) are highly skilled rehab specialists who help patients manage the physical symptoms of their medical condition. The process of physical therapy begins with a thorough evaluation of the patient’s mobility, strength, stamina, and other key markers. The physical therapist then designs a customized training program based on supervised exercise to help the patient improve their physical wellbeing. They will also help identify any assistive devices the patient might need (such as a cane or walker) and train the patient in their correct usage. In addition, they may work with a patient’s caregivers or loved ones to ensure that they can be transported safely to doctor’s appointments.
In the context of inpatient rehab, speech therapists are most likely to be working with patients who have experienced speech impairment as the result of a medical event, such as a stroke or surgery. This impairment may be physical (for instance, difficulty forming words or even swallowing) or cognitive (for example, difficulty understanding language or remembering words). Speech therapists will work closely with patients to design a series of exercises to help improve communicative abilities.
Depending on the patient, these exercises might involve problem-solving or memory exercises, breathing control techniques, or oral muscle exercises. Speech therapists are also qualified to insert breathing or speaking valves or use electrical stimulation devices (such as a VitalStim or E-Stim) to strengthen facial and vocal muscles. If the patient is not able to swallow solid foods, the speech therapist will advise the nutritionist on the types of liquid the patient can safely swallow. Speech therapists are highly specialized and have completed a rigorous certification program and received a state license.
If physical therapists evaluate and improve the patient’s physical health, occupational therapists focus on the patient’s functional abilities. In other words, during inpatient rehab, occupational therapists help patients to perform their daily activities – such as dressing, bathing, grooming, personal hygiene, and getting into and out of bed – with as much independence as possible. Occupational therapists will teach patients how to manage their physical or cognitive limitations, how to adjust to a new physical reality, and how to build a higher quality of life despite medical symptoms or disabilities. The OT will also determine the need for assistive equipment when the patient returns home – such as a raised toilet seat or a modified bath. They are typically university-educated professionals and must pass a licensing exam to practice.
Healthcare management is a growing professional field. In inpatient rehab facilities, the facility manager makes sure that patients receive the best possible quality of care, manages the team, and supervises the budget. As a patient, you may not meet the healthcare manager, but if you feel well-cared for, receive treatment from top professionals, enjoy modern, well-maintained facilities, and gain a clear understanding of how to manage your condition, you’ll know they are doing a good job.
Food services are a vital part of an inpatient rehab program. For patients struggling with a nutritional disorder, or for those who need to reduce or maintain their weight to better control their medical condition, a nutritionist will design an individual, personalized diet plan to help support their nutritional goals. The nutritionist may also advise on exercise, meal planning, and behavior management to make sure that the patient can stick to their meal plan after the rehab program is finished.
Environmental services staff (sometimes known as housekeeping staff) are a critical part of the inpatient rehab team, as they are the front line in preventing the spread of infection and maintaining hygienic conditions for patient rehab. Environmental services professionals make sure that the facilities are clean and safe for patients and create a healthy and welcoming environment that promotes patients’ recovery. The job can be physically demanding and usually requires a GED or high school diploma. Additional certification as a healthcare environmental professional is often required.
Healthcare facility maintenance professionals make sure that the facilities are safe for patients and ensure that all the equipment used for rehab and treatment is fully functional and up to date. Maintenance workers may be involved in repairing everything from the building and grounds, or the exercise equipment and other facilities, to the complex medical machinery used for patient treatment.
The process of billing for inpatient rehab treatment can be a highly complex one, which may involve dealing with multiple insurance firms and payment providers, as well as the patient and their loved ones. The Billing Services team are responsible for making sure that patients are billed correctly, that all financial requirements are communicated clearly to patients and insurers, and that bills are paid on time.
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