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Post-Hospital Care: Should I Choose Home Health or Short-Term Stays?

A physical therapist helps a senior woman using a wheelchair exercise her arms

After a stay in the hospital, there’s nothing you want more than to return to your familiar surroundings, sleep in your own bed and get back into your normal routine. However, that’s not always the best next step for your long-term health.

Even if you’re well on your way to recovery and don’t need further care for the condition that caused the hospitalization, a hospital stay takes a toll on your body. Laying in a hospital bed with limited movement can quickly erode your strength and balance. While the exact amount of short-term rehabilitation you need will depend on your unique circumstances, a common rule of thumb is a week of rehab for each day you’re in the hospital.

When your medical team indicates you’ll be discharged soon, or even before that point, you’ll want to weigh several factors to determine whether you’re better off completing your rehab through home health services or with a stay at a short-term rehabilitation center.  


Post-Hospital Care: Should I Choose Home Health or Short-Term Stays?


Therapeutic Services

The goal of rehab is to restore your function and reduce pain after a medical setback. Often, rehab includes a combination of several different types of therapeutic care.

  • Physical therapy helps you regain strength, balance, endurance, and your ability to safely get around. Physical therapy exercises can also help reduce or manage pain.
  • Occupational therapy is intended to ensure you’re able to resume essential activities of daily living, whether that’s through practicing new ways to master those tasks or learning how to use adaptive equipment.
  • Speech therapy allows you to practice communicating and can be useful if you’re experiencing cognitive or memory issues.

Whether you can complete your recommended therapy at home or in a short-term rehab center may depend on whether there are providers available in your area to offer the specific type of post-hospital care you need at home. In addition, if you need specialized equipment that would be impractical to carry into your home, you may be better served by accessing the professional equipment available through the short-term rehab services at a retirement community.


Insurance Requirements

You might be surprised to discover that even if the type of rehabilitation you need could be provided at home, your insurance provider may require that you complete short-term rehab on an inpatient basis. This is especially true if you’re recovering from a major illness, surgery or an injury. That’s largely because research shows that patients who go to a skilled nursing facility for rehabilitation before heading home have a lower readmission rate than those who go directly into home health care.



Depending on the exact nature of your rehab program, it may be more logistically practical to complete your therapy on an inpatient basis. At a short-term rehab center, you can expect multiple therapy sessions a day, which means you’re likely to make progress more rapidly. You may find it quite difficult to line up a comparable schedule with home health agencies, and frequent commutes to an outpatient facility can be exhausting.


Risk of Complications

Monitoring for complications is an important role of a short-term rehab care team. Trained professionals keep an eye on your progress and monitor your overall health so any potential problems that arise can be addressed swiftly. This ensures you stay on a steady path toward recovery while receiving the post-hospital care your doctor or surgeon advises.


Personal Care

While your condition may not warrant further hospitalization, you may not be fully up to caring for yourself. At a short-term rehab center, you can expect help with everything from getting dressed and bathing if you’re still feeling weak to having hot, nutritious meals prepared for you. 


Safe Living Space

A short-term stay is also a good alternative if your home isn’t a fit for your recovery journey, such as an upstairs bedroom when you’re temporarily unable to use the stairs. You also need to be able to safely get in and out of the house. Short-term rehab will allow you to recover in an environment free of those kinds of obstacles, then return home when you’re ready to live like you used to.


Our Success Rate Speaks Volumes

At The Oaks at Denville, our highly qualified rehabilitation therapists work closely with your medical team throughout the discharge planning process so we can make the most of your short time with us and get you back to enjoying your familiar lifestyle. We’re proud that our Short-Term Rehabilitation program has a High Performing rating from U.S. News &World Report, but we’re even more thrilled with our patients’ success stories. A whopping 73% of our patients (20% more than the national average) are able to return home, which means our rehabilitation programs are successful and your chances of regaining your independence are really strong!

Contact us for more information about our comprehensive senior rehabilitation services.

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