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Thinking of Working in Post Acute Rehabilitation? Here’s Everything You Need to Know

If you’re geared towards the post acute care field of work, then you have a world of opportunities available at your fingertips. It’s a bright and promising career that has been proven to have stronger growth and faster hire rates than many other fields of industry. An overwhelming majority of the graduates in this field report that they obtain their first preferred choice of job within 3 months of their graduation. In this current economy, those numbers are almost unheard of.
Post acute rehabilitation is all about becoming redundant, as odd as that may sound. The job of a post acute care worker is to be no longer needed as you move the patient from a severe injury, illness, or surgery to being back on their feet at home. This job could take a few days or several months, depending on the level of care needed. If you’re considering a position in this field, here are the relevant facts you need to know about this noble and worthwhile profession.

Post Acute Care Covers all Major Therapy

In the role of transitional care, your job is to move someone to being fully functional after a serious life event hampers their ability to do so. It’s not about just regaining motor skills. A fully licensed and certified post acute rehab worker concentrates on the patient’s entire wellness from mind, body, and soul. This covers all three of the major fields of physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy.

Physical Therapy – You might perceive all post acute care workers as specializing in this field because a lot of the work done revolves around getting the patient back up to full mobility. Physical therapy is all about getting the patient back to an independent state after their illness or injury has compromised their movements. The care worker focuses on providing their patient with the exercises and treatments that they need to get back to normal movement. They work to help regain the patient’s strength, flexibility, balance, and most of all, confidence.

Occupational Therapy – After working through an injury or surgery, some occupational therapy might be needed to get the patient back to performing their normal daily duties with independence. The care worker would provide this therapy so that the patient can dress themselves, bathe, prepare meals, and perform light house duties. This goes beyond physical therapy where mobility is the key. Occupational therapy works on the finely-tuned motor movements to perform specialized tasks. In some fooball match predictions cases, an injury leaves a patient without the ability to do a task, so a post acute care worker teaches compensation techniques and ways to alter the environment around them.

Speech Therapy – Post acute care occasionally gets into speech therapy. Stroke victims are often in need of speech therapy after a severe stroke limits their communication. Many disorders can lead to a loss of speech and a post acute care worker must evaluate and treat the conditions that each disorder displays.

Post Acute Care Can Be in Any Location

Rehabilitation serves the patient, not the provider. This is the reason that many post acute care workers are providing their services in a variety of locations. This could be in the hospital after a serious injury or surgery, in a skilled nursing facility (SNF), a long term acute care center (LTAC), or even in the home.
Hospital – For patients that need care straight after a debilitating illness, a hospital care worker is convenient and immediate. Care can begin right after the treatment is concluded. It’s worth noting that although care begins in the hospital, rarely does the full treatment of post acute care be given there.

Skilled Nursing Facility – A typical SNF is attached to a hospital to continue the treatment on a longer-term basis. The care providers in a skilled nursing facility treat a variety of hospital-related medical conditions. They provide a round-the-clock care that meets all needs, not just post acute rehab.

Long-term Acute Care – A LTAC is a center for those required a post acute care that extends for at least 30 days. If the treatment needed will be ongoing and intense, it’s a good place to consider as they focus on only post acute care for long term patients. There is no accommodation for short-term patients however.

Home – For many Post acute rehabilitation workers, this is the ideal venue. In a field that focuses on the patient’s entire wellness, the home is the safest and most reliable place to achieve long-term success. It keeps the patient comfortable and improves their response to treatment and rehabilitation. It also allows the care giver to deal with the patient in the environment they need to adapt to. If there are stairs in the home, the care provider provides physical therapy to use the stairs. If they have high cupboards, the therapy is about reaching up to the cupboards. Working within in the home provides the patient with the incentive to get better sooner.

For the potential post acute care worker, this field has a verity of choices and environments. If you seek to offer a particular type of therapy such as occupational therapy, your choice of post acute care can be as an independent worker in a home or as a staff member in a long-term acute center. If you want to work with a team of therapists all focuses on providing wellness in a skilled nursing facility, you can choose a field of speech therapy or physical therapy. Working in post acute care, your job is to be more than just a nurse or a therapist, but a mentor for the depressed, a coach for the uninspired, and a friend for the lonely.

If you’re considering a role in this field, contact the team at HTS Therapy, the specialists in contract therapy across all fields. They can help advise you in the role you seek to find.

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.