Therapy Plays a Vital Role in Post-Acute Care

The word “acute” in the medical sense means that a disease or illness is sudden or has a short duration. Post-acute care may be indicated for diseases, surgeries, and injuries that dramatically affect a person’s way of life. Therapy is one important modality to consider for post-acute care patients. It can often be vital for patients to cope with symptoms, learn a new way of living and return to full health.

Therapy Treats the Whole Person

Therapy addresses the patient as a whole person. Therapists care deeply about the concept of wellness, not just health. A common phrase among occupational therapists (OTs) and physical therapists (PTs) is: “Deal with reality on reality’s terms.” This means that there is an ideal place of full health, but not everyone can get there. This is where wellness plays an important role. Medical providers prescribe pills and ointments to treat a patient’s illness or condition. Therapists deal with all manifestations of the patient’s condition, as varied as they can be.

  • Physical Wellness – Of course, many of the problems patients face is a lack of complete mobility, or dealing with the loss of an action or an entire body part. Therapists deal with this by developing new techniques for the patients to use to compensate for their loss of mobility. Therapists also work with post-acute care patients by relearning physical skills to deal with daily life.
  • Emotional Wellness – Dealing with any disease is tough, even more so when it’s debilitating, embarrassing or life-altering. It’s not just awkward or inconvenient dealing with incontinence after a particular tough battle with prostate cancer; it’s humiliating as well. Therapy treats the emotional scarring and behavioral issues that happen during post-acute care. Without it, a patient can’t fully cope with their new mode of living.
  • Spiritual Wellness – This isn’t some new-aged concept; therapy attempts to address the deep-seated issues spiritual struggles with acceptance. A vital part of dealing with and healing from a new condition is to learn to accept it. Spiritual wellness develops a peace and harmony about a patient’s life.

The wellness chart also consists of social, intellectual, occupational and environmental hubs. Therapy addresses the entirety of a condition by treating each of these aspects. Whereas a doctor or caregiver might prescribe medication, wellness involves a much more complete picture of the patient and treats them as such.

Therapy in Post-Acute Care

Within the framework of therapy, there are different needs for different patients. These are the most common types of care that are offered at post-acute care centers or skilled nursing facilities.

Occupational Therapy – The goal of an OT is to give the patient the tools and techniques to return to normal function of everyday life. Within post-acute care, occupational therapy attempts to focus on highly-specific tasks directly affected by the condition. This could be: learning medication management after a surgery, or relearning how to dress, bathe, prepare meals, and perform light housekeeping duties. This short-term therapy is about getting patients to become independent so they can rely on themselves rather than a therapist.

Physical Therapy – Sometimes, a surgery or illness causes physical changes to a patient’s body. After a hip replacement, a physical therapist provides post-acute care during the recovery to develop specific muscles so patients regain the ability to walk. Physical therapists strengthen and target the movements that can no longer be performed normally. They also prescribe exercise so that the patient can become independent and self-reliant.

Speech Therapy – This may be indicated for patients with some sort of head or neck cancer or the rapid onset of a neurological disease. The speech, cognition, swallowing or motor movements of the mouth can be greatly affected. Speech therapy seeks to restore function to all these areas. It exists to bring back that original movement within the mouth. Words are the literal sharing of ideas and thoughts so the lack of words can greatly hamper a patient’s moods and ability to heal. With therapy, patients can restore their ability to communicate effectively, even if it is different than before.

Therapy’s Role in Recovery

Therapy provides patients with care in every aspect of their life.  Rehabilitation is an important and critical part of the recovery process.  For most patients, a post-acute care stay lasts from 20-30 days depending on the patient’s diagnosis and tolerance for therapy. It’s short-term care that’s designed to transition patients out of medical facilities and back into the home. There is no other solution that is as complete and whole as therapy for making this outcome possible.

For the most part, post-acute care is done in a skilled nursing facility or a long-term acute center (LTAC). Many patients, with the correct therapy, move back into their homes and lead normal lives within a few weeks to months. Therapy can continue in the home as patients work towards a complete restoration of their health and wellbeing.

HTS provides therapy services to skilled nursing facilities, extended care, hospitals, assisted living and continuing care retirement communities across the Midwest and Southern States.   We are a trusted authority on post-acute care rehabilitation and keep our clients informed, compliant and positioned as leaders in their industry.   Partner with HTS today!

An assisted living community is designed for those individuals who can still function, but they need a bit of extra care undertaking their daily activities. There are two main variations of assisted living that these facilities care for. There are the activities of daily living (ADL), which can include bathing and dressing. They are necessary activities that everyone needs to perform on a daily basis. Therapy for individuals can help work through the challenges some people face with this level of task. There are also instrumental activities of daily living (IADL). These are the tasks that are essential to life and without the ability to perform these tasks; a person’s health would suffer. This includes preparing meals, eating and drinking, transportation, mobility, and managing medication. An assisted living community is excellent at identifying and categorizing people into specific levels of care.

Therapy for these individuals is varied and different. Occupational therapy comes into play quite a bit with assisted living communities. They have an outlying role in some patient’s lives, assisting them with the ADL challenges they may face. The residents needing help with IADL, such as Alzheimer patients, recent surgery recipients or residents with dementia depend heavily on an OT for their daily routines.

Here are the 5 reasons why you need physical, occupational and speech therapy in Assisted Living.

Therapy Addresses the Issues of Community Residents

A therapist is excellent at dealing with the issues of the residents. They can help them adapt to their new lifestyle, perhaps by helping with some compensation techniques. They can offer advice and suggestions to transitioning from an independent life to one with assistance for daily tasks. This isn’t an easy adjustment, but therapy goes a long way to dealing with these stresses. The best use of therapy in an assisted living community is to identify the underlying causes of behaviors in the patients.

When the residents of these communities start to change, the best course to help that adjustment is to use therapy. This could be in the form of occupational therapy for those ADLs and IADLs. It could be speech therapy for people who are having trouble swallowing or coughing during a meal. It could even be physical therapy for people who may have trouble with balance or feel unsteady on their feet. In the course of therapy, a practitioner can measure, quantify and identify those causes of changes in their life.

Clients Undergoing a Decline in Lifestyle Can Benefit from Therapy

As often is the case, a resident in assisted living can suffer a decline in health. Staff might not always become immediately aware, but by having therapy on-site, a therapist can notice the signs and teach the entire staff to recognize declines in physical functioning and cognition. The caregiver, housekeeping staff and dietary workers are often the first to recognize and identify a change in health conditions. With proper training by the therapy department, the Assisted Living Community and family members can be proactive in addressing any decline to maintain and regain optimal health.

As the population grows, these types of situations will become more rampant. Therapy is the best defense for dealing with declining health and new struggles adapting to IADLs.

Therapy Promotes Wellness for All Residents

Therapy isn’t just for the sick and seriously debilitated. Therapy is good for the wellness of all the residents. It’s estimated that of the nearly 1 million current residents of assisted living communities across the country, 81% require some sort of therapy to complete at least one task, be it ADL or IADL. When the majority of the residents require therapy for just one task, it’s the job of the therapist to offer a solution for better wellness across all the residents.

With 1 million residents now and the number set to only increase, these communities have to become more competitive to reach the new numbers of an aging community that requires some help. Therapy offered increases the wellness of the residents, which in turn increases the satisfaction. This promotes the community as being a healthy, viable option for those who are considering it in the future. Having therapy is a good benefit to offer those who will soon depend on it for daily living.

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Are on the Rise

Occupational therapy and physical therapy can often be more than just an aid for those who can’t button their pants or remember their medication. Therapy can address the deeper issues and behavioral changes that are associated with diseases and illnesses. Those who have dealt with Alzheimer’s patients understand the dramatic mood swings they can undergo. A seemingly sweet woman can become moody, frustrated, belligerent, and rowdy during a bad day. This is the disease and not the patient. Therapy helps to address those needs. It helps to soothe the frustration by compensating for the loss of understanding and memory. A therapist understands that while a dementia diagnosis is a progressive decline, therapists focus on maximizing the remaining abilities for each individual.

Therapy’s focus is the wellness of the patient, not necessarily the disease alone. Therapy helps to offer relief from the behavioral issues that sometimes come from a disease like Alzheimer’s. There is always a certain amount of frustration that comes from transitioning from a life of independence to one where assistance is required. Therapy is at the forefront by helping the client overcome those fears and barriers and learning new understandings of wellness.

Final Thoughts

Assisted living communities are a popular choice among seniors and the aging population. Now that many aging adults seek places that don’t just assist with their ADLs, they want somewhere that can address the wellness, social, mental, emotional and physical needs as well. Therapy, be it occupational, physical, or speech, offers these residents just what they need to adapt to a new lifestyle. As the population in these communities increases, so will the need for more therapists who can meet those demands.

For more information about outpatient therapy in assisted living, contact the team at Healthcare Therapy Services, Inc. HTS Outpatient Rehabilitation provides senior living communities with convenient, on-site therapy and wellness services to support independence, safety and quality of life for their residents.