If you will be transitioning to a short term rehab program after a hospital stay, you are certain to have questions about just what to expect with that change. Among the most frequent concerns for patients making this transition are how long their rehab stay will be and what will be expected of them as they enter this new and unfamiliar care environment. While specific answers to these questions can only be given on a case-by-case basis, there are some general guidelines that can help give you an idea of what to expect.
Length of stay
The primary goal of a good short term rehab program is to get you back in shape and ready to go home as quickly as possible. For the vast majority of patients, this means that they will have completed their inpatient rehabilitation plan and be headed home in less than 30 days. The average stay in the short term rehabilitation setting is about 20 days, and many patients are discharged in as little as 7 to 14 days.
Your personal length of stay will be largely determined by your progress in terms of recovery and rehabilitation. When you are admitted to your rehabilitation program, you will be assessed by a multidisciplinary team of rehabilitation specialists who will evaluate your current medical condition, past medical history, current ability levels and other factors in order to help you set goals for rehabilitation and formulate a treatment plan to achieve those goals. As that treatment plan is put into action, your progress will be monitored and the treatment plan adjusted as necessary to ensure that your goals are met as quickly and safely as possible. Generally, discharge will occur when you and your rehabilitation team feel that you have achieved those goals.
Expectations in the short term rehab environment
You will find that what is expected of you, as a patient, is much different in the short term rehab environment as compared to the typical acute care hospital stay. In the hospital, care is largely centered on treating the illness, injury or condition that made medical care necessary, getting you stabilized and on the road to recovery. Short term rehab, on the other hand, is focused on facilitating that recovery, helping you regain strength, health and function lost to medical issues. That focus on recovery creates a much different environment. While physicians, nurses and other care professionals are typically in the driver's seat in the acute care setting, patients are expected to take a much more active role in rehab.
That means you will be an active participant in the process of formulating and implementing your treatment plan, and much of the responsibility for making steady progress towards your rehabilitation goals will rest on your shoulders. You will be expected to participate in a minimum of 3 hours of therapy daily, which may include physical, occupational and speech therapy, among others, and you will likely be asked to perform exercises and activities on your own between therapy sessions.
Short term rehab can be a very intense experience, and being aware of the distinct differences between this type of care and the typical hospital experience can make adjusting to those differences easier. The key point to keep in mind during your transition is that the amount of motivation, determination, cooperation and hard work you bring to the table will be a major factor in your level of success as you work with your rehabilitation team to get back on your feet and back to your life.