Post Acute Care 101

The Basics (Part 1 of 2)

Many hospital stays are transitioned to a recovery scenario requiring rehabilitative support, otherwise known as “post-acute care.” Post-acute care continues the healing process from an illness or injury, and may be short- or long-term, depending on the patient’s situation.

The process of selecting post-acute care can be daunting. During a time when you and your loved ones are already on edge, there’s a lot to think about in terms of selecting the right post-acute care setting, from geography, to level of care and insurance.

AZHHA’s aim is to give you general guidelines that will help you maneuver this complex system. This blog will expand into three parts, breaking the topic of post-acute care into three blocks of information: (1) The basics about post-acute care, (2) Choosing the right providers, and (3) For seniors, choosing a Medicare Advantage plan.

The Four Types of Post-Acute Care Providers

If you, a family member or friend is in a situation that calls for a hospital-to-recovery transition, you have four settings from which to choose after leaving the hospital.

In general, from lowest to highest in terms of intensive care and expense, they are:

  1. Home health agencies (HHAs)
  2. Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs)
  3. Inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs)
  4. Long-term acute care hospitals (LTACHs)

Depending on the severity of the prognosis, you absolutely have a hand in choosing from this list. But buyer beware: Often times patients land at a provider that doesn’t actually offer the level of care he or she needs to get well.

So, how do you know which type of care is right?

Example A: The patient is normally very active and gets plenty of physical exercise, making the decision easier. You’ll lean toward home health care versus a Skilled Nursing Facility—especially if his or her home is already equipped with basic safety features and emotional support.

Example B: With an elderly, frailer patient with multiple diagnoses and prescriptions and limited mobility, you’ll want to choose between an inpatient-rehab facility or long-term acute care hospital, to more easily accommodate the attention he or she requires, including multiple professional caregivers and full-time care. But, how do you make that decision?

Decision-Making Made Easier

To equip consumers, case managers and hospitals alike in making the “which provider type?” decision, AZHHA has published the Post-Acute Care Patient Placement Guide. This easy-to-use table fosters an educated, realistic discussion between patient and case manager, in order to formulate the right discharge plan. Have this document handy when you speak with your case manager.

We realize this is only half the battle, but it’s an imperative one. Quality of care and cost are also important to people making this decision, while not-so-distant runners up are insurance coverage and geography.

So, How Do I Choose a Quality Provider I Can Afford?

Your journey in this continuum of post-acute care doesn’t have to be fraught with as many challenges if you identify the right partners. But, how does one go about doing that?

Find out how in Blog 2 of 3 on post-acute care, where we’ll examine the how-tos of finding the right service providers. And don’t miss the third blog installment for seniors, where we’ll discuss the vast differences between Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plus. Believe us, you’ll want to read this before making your decision this fall during open enrollment.

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