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10 Questions to Ask when Choosing a Rehabilitation Facility

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Updated April 23, 2014

A rehab facility should provide comfort to patients, as well as exemplary rehabilitation services. There are some facilities that claim they are rehabilitation facilities, but are more geared toward providing nursing home accommodations. Before you choose a facility, there are important questions to ask that will help to determine the type and quality of facility that you may be entering into a contract with.

Be sure to have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction by a caseworker on the staff at a rehab facility before placing a patient there. Many people, when faced with finding a rehabilitation facility, let the decisions fall to hospital case workers. The main consideration, unfortunately, is often who has an available bed, not necessarily the best facility for the patient. Family members and caregivers should always shop around and find a quality facility; the success of the rehabilitation depends upon it.

1. Is the facility accredited?

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In the United States, rehabilitation facilities are accredited by Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations. Accredited facilities are visited by the JCAHO every three years to conduct multi-day evaluations covering all aspects of care.

2. Does the facility monitor care quality?

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Does the facility offer patient or family surveys to assess quality of care and satisfaction? Do they offer employee satisfaction surveys as well?

3. Is the facility clean and appealing?

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When you walk into the facility, does it smell good and look clean? Is the décor appealing and functional? Does the patient room contain a phone, television and a shower or bath? Do patients have an outdoor area that they can use? Is the building easily accessible indoors, as well as out?

4. Does the facility specialize in rehabilitation care?

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Facilities that specialize in rehabilitation care are certified by Medicare as rehabilitation hospitals. The individuals who work in certified rehabilitation hospitals are specially trained in acute rehabilitation care. A facility may also offer specialized programs, such as brain injury, stroke, orthopedic and cardiac rehabilitation programs, with staff who are specially trained in these areas.

5. Are board certified medical staff available at all times?

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It is very important to have board certified medical staff that are trained in rehab care in the facility, but they should be available at all times, around the clock. Look for a facility that has a physician on site, 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, and preferably an internist with critical care training.

6. What is the ratio of qualified nurses to patients?

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A facility may seem to have plenty of caregivers on staff, but are they qualified rehabilitation nurses? An ideal ratio of nurses to patients is one nurse to every five or six patients during the day. In the evening, a nurse for every 6 or 7 patients is ideal. Be wary of facilities that are heavily staffed with CNAs (Certified Nursing Assistants), as opposed to registered nurses that specialize in rehabilitation care.

7. How much therapy will the patient receive?

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A rehabilitation facility should provide more therapy than a nursing home. The therapy should range from 1-3 hours per day, though spread out at different times during the day. The therapy should be progressive as the patient gains strength during their stay. The type of therapy will vary depending upon the therapists and specialists assigned to the case.

8. Who develops the treatment plan?

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The treatment plan should be developed with a team made up of therapists, the patient and the patient’s caregivers. It should be tailored to the patient’s individual needs.

9. Is there a patient care coordinator or case worker?

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One of the most important people in the patient care team is the patient care coordinator or case worker. They should be available to answer questions about the discharge, insurance issues and help to arrange for services that may be needed after the discharge from the facility.

10. Does the facility offer outpatient therapy and services?

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Are patients able to return for outpatient therapy, if needed, after they are discharged? After a patient establishes a relationship with a therapist, it can be helpful for them to continue with the same therapist after they have been discharged.

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