If your loved one suffers a stroke you will be thrust into unknown waters. While the medical team takes care of stabilizing your loved one, you will have to check on insurance coverage, communicate with the care team, and quickly develop a post-stroke care plan. Stroke rehabilitation centers (also called rehab) are an important part of that process. Depending upon the deficiencies caused by the stroke, your loved one may be transferred to a rehab center from the hospital. These centers are focused on wellness and have a forward-looking approach to care; one that anticipates some level of recovery.
When your loved one is nearing discharge from the hospital, the case manager will tell you one of two things:
- There is only one bed available in nearby stroke rehab centers and that is where your loved one is going.
- There are several beds available, which center to do you prefer?
If you have a choice of rehab centers you will need to know the questions to ask in order to make your decision. Here is what you need to know about stroke rehabilitation centers.
Offers basic services: The majority of rehabilitation centers offer a wide range of rehabilitative services for many different kinds of injuries and illnesses ranging from hip replacements and stroke to heart attacks and traumatic brain injury. Few specialize in stroke recovery alone. Any rehab center should offer core services that include:
- Re-learning basic skills such as talking, eating, dressing and walking.
- Increasing strength, flexibility, and endurance.
- Regaining as much independence as possible.
Accredited by national organizations: A good rehab center will have accreditation from a nationally recognized accrediting agency. There are two that certify rehab centers that meet health and safety standards. They are:
- The Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (CARF).
- The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), also called The Joint Commission.
- Medicare also certifies rehab centers.
Staff is well trained: Check the credentials and training of the staff. This information should be listed on the rehab center’s website. A good rehab center will have the following:
- Medical Director and doctors who are board certified in rehab-related specialties such as physiatry or neurology and experienced in stroke medicine.
- Physical, occupational and speech-language therapists
- Recreation Therapist
- Rehabilitation nurse
- Case Manager
Ask about the rehab center’s approach to patient care: want a center that involves family members regularly and makes family communication a priority. You want a center that focuses on the following:
- A team approach for patient care
- Regular rehab team meetings to evaluate each patient’s progress
- Regular family meetings to keep them up-to-date with the progress of their loved ones; patient and family education.
Important general questions: You want to make sure that you are well-educated throughout the stroke rehab process. This information will help you help your loved one continue to recover at home. The National Stroke Association recommends that you ask the following questions:
- Do they provide an ongoing assessment of the patient’s progress in terms of abilities and level of independence in activities of daily living (such as dressing and walking)?
- Does the program have a formal system for evaluating the progress made by its patients and the overall outcomes of the stroke rehab program?
- Does the facility offer the rehab treatments that I need?
- Am I eligible for those treatments?
- Is help available with discharge?
- How does it work?
- What is the estimated cost of my treatment?
- Will my insurance plan or government funding (Medicare, Medicaid, state health plans) cover all or part of the cost?
- Will the staff help me with health insurance claims or appeals, if needed?
- What is the average total cost for the complete stroke program (acute rehab, home care, outpatient)?
These questions will help you determine if a stroke rehab center is the best choice to meet the specific needs of your loved one. If you still feel are uncomfortable with a rehab center, here are in-home caregiving tips for your post-stroke care plan.