Making the transition to rehab

It’s good news if your loved one is sent to a rehab facility after a hospital stay.

It means the doctor expects that, with therapy, your relative might resume usual activities or learn to adapt to new challenges following an injury or illness.

The rehab experience frequently lasts several weeks and can be intense. It is a workout.

Patient motivation is key. Shortly after admission, the rehab staff will assess your loved one and set specific goals. Daily physical therapy, speech therapy, and/or occupational therapy will be used to achieve those goals. Patients are expected to participate at least one hour per day.

This “workout” may seem overwhelming to your relative. And therapists have different styles. Some praise and others are more commanding. Encourage your relative to give feedback if a particular style is not helpful.

Help the team connect with your loved one. You can do this by providing perspective from the past and continuity with your loved one’s future:

  • No hospital gowns here! Your relative will need comfortable clothes labeled with his or her name.
  • Attend the “care planning” meetings. This is when staff members from all departments discuss a patient’s goals and progress. Ask questions here!
  • Ask for observations and tips, but be sensitive to your loved one’s privacy.
  • Visit when you can, and consider attending treatment sessions to give support. Balance encouragement of your family member with realistic expectations.

Patients leave rehab when they meet their goals. Or when they “plateau,” meaning that they are no longer improving. Lack of participation is also a reason for discharge. Usually some form of care or therapy will still be needed. Work with the facility to create a discharge plan that addresses things such as exercises at home, visits from a home health nurse, or follow-up at a clinic.