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Why Short Term Rehab Can Become A Long Term Stay

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When a senior adult requires a stay at a short term rehabilitation facility, it is the hope of their loved ones that they return home to as normal a life as possible. Unfortunately, this may not always be the result. There are times when a short-term stay turns into a long-term one, and the senior must move from the transitional rehab facility into one that offers skilled nursing care. Caregivers and family members, and often the seniors themselves, may not expect or be prepared for this to happen.

When a patient enters a transitional rehab facility, they are expected to work toward treatment goals set by the medical team and staff. These goals are set based on the condition of the individual when they enter treatment, and what that person needs to learn or relearn to do. As an example, a person who is recovering from a broken or fractured hip may need to learn how to walk safely. Another, recovering from a stroke, may need to relearn how to dress or feed themselves.

In some cases,  reaching the treatment goals needed to safely return home is slow or non-existent. There are different reasons this can happen. The patient may be too sick or too weak to perform the required exercises and therapies. Unfortunately, no matter how hard they try, they just cannot respond to treatment right away.

Most insurance providers base payment for services on the amount of progress a patient is making. When an individual is not making the progress required to satisfy the insurer’s requirements, coverage may stop. When this happens and the individual is unable to care for themselves at home, a move to a skilled nursing facility may be required. Once in the long-term care facility, therapy sessions are less intense and less frequent than in the transitional rehab facility where the goal is to get the patient home as quickly as possible.

Listed below are some of the common reasons a senior adult may not be able to return home after a stay in a short-term rehab facility.

Caregiver Limitations
After a senior experiences a serious injury or illness, family members or other caregivers may not have the time or ability to handle all that is now needed once the patient returns home. These caregivers may also suffer from their own health issues or have other responsibilities outside of the home that put limitations on the amount of care they can give.

No at Home Care Service Options

At-home care services can be costly, and most insurance providers do not cover every at-home service that will be required once the patient returns home. A majority of seniors have Medicare, for example, which does not cover long-term at-home care.

The rehab staff may observe signs of dementia, like memory loss or disorientation, that have gone unnoticed or are considered to be normal behaviors at home. They will let family members know that it may not be safe for the senior to return home.

Environmental Concerns

Most homes are not set up to be easily accessible for those with mobility issues before a serious injury or illness occurs. Bathrooms and kitchens in typical homes, for instance, are not laid out in a way that makes it easy for a person using a walker or wheelchair to move around. Most homes also have outside stairs or stairways to other floors in the house that a person with mobility or other health issues cannot manage on their own. Fortunately, these are problems that can be fixed, and when done so, the patient may be able to return home.


It is the hope of everyone that a patient will return home after a stay in a short term transitional rehab facility. Unfortunately, this may not always be the case. It can be stressful and upsetting when caregivers learn that their family member cannot return home right away, or at all. At Prodigy Transitional Rehab, we know that there is always a possibility that a patient may not be able to fully recover after a serious injury or illness. When this occurs, there’s no need to move the patient to another facility in another town. We also provide the skilled nursing services your loved one needs. Our experienced and helpful administration is the same regardless of the level of care. Contact us today to learn more.