Rehabilitation is the process of restoring a person’s ability to live and work as normally as possible after a disabling injury or illness. The goal is to help a person achieve his or her greatest possible physical and psychological fitness in order to lead an independent life.
When choosing a rehabilitation program, it’s important to take time to observe, compare, and ask questions. Only then can you be sure that you have chosen the best program to meet your needs or the needs of a loved one. Three key areas to look at when choosing a rehabilitation program:
Start With a Tour
Most facilities have staff members who can show you around and answer your questions. Simply call and ask for an appointment.
Specialized Rehabilitation Hospitals
Some hospitals offer rehabilitation programs or units that may meet the needs of some people. However, these services may not meet the comprehensive rehabilitation needs of other people. Recognizing that no one facility can be all things to all people, you should look for a hospital that specializes in physical rehabilitation:
Rehabilitation hospitals and some acute care hospitals with rehabilitation units hold a special accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). This means that the facility meets or exceeds nationally established standards for high quality. While this accreditation is not required (participation is voluntary), identifying facilities with this accreditation helps you to locate quality providers. You also should pay attention to the length of time that the facility has had the accreditation. A long-standing CARF accreditation indicates a high-quality rehabilitation program.
Accreditation for individual programs offered by a facility indicates an exceptional rehabilitation provider.
Environment plays an important role in help people to maintain a positive attitude during rehabilitation.
All aspects of patient needs should be addressed—social and recreational areas, patient dining room, easy access to treatment areas, accessible bathrooms and sleeping rooms, and modified or adapted equipment to encourage independence.
The Rehabilitation Program
A comprehensive rehabilitation program must offer coordinated services, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech/language pathology, rehabilitation nursing, recreation therapy, psychology, social services, vocational counseling, community re-entry support, respiratory therapy, nutrition counseling, patient and family support groups, and drive education.
Services should be individualized for each patient and coordinated through a team of rehabilitation professionals. Team members should meet regularly under the direction of a physiatrist, a doctor who specializes in rehabilitation. The physiatrist should have access, through the hospital staff, to physicians from other medical specialties who are available for consultation when needed.
Each patient should have his or her own rehabilitation team, and the team should remain with the patient throughout the rehabilitation stay. Rehabilitation services should be offered seven days a week, including three to five hours a day on weekdays. Some weekend services also should be available.
The onset of a disability affects not only the newly disabled person, but their family as well. The family plays an important role in a rehabilitation program. You should look for a rehabilitation program that includes and encourages family participation at a variety of levels. Families should be considered members of the rehabilitation team; their needs and opinions should be sought. Families should be invited to attend team conferences and contribute to the rehabilitation plan. Families should be allowed to observe treatment and to visit freely.
Look for a facility that offers family support groups as a regular part of the comprehensive rehabilitation program. These groups help family members to gain a greater understanding of the disability, and provide insights into adapting and coping. They also provide an opportunity for families to have contact with others who are experiencing similar problems.
Discharge to Home
The goal of a comprehensive physical rehabilitation program is to help a person achieve a maximum level of independence. One measure of the achievement of this goal is the person’s ability to return home after rehabilitation. A successful rehabilitation program will result in individuals who improve their ability to care for themselves, with a majority of them returning home after discharge.
Education and Experience
The education and experience of staff members contribute greatly to the overall success of a comprehensive rehabilitation program. So, too, is the ability of the facility to provide continuity of staff throughout the rehabilitation stay.
It is preferable for professional staff to be employed by the hospital. This gives the hospital greater control over the quality and consistency of care, and contributes to more meaningful communication with the patient and family.
Dedicated staff—with a permanent assignment to the rehabilitation hospital or unit—are preferable to staff who rotate from unit to unit. Dedicated staff ensures a higher level of knowledge and expertise in rehabilitation.
About Sacred Heart Rehabilitation
Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute is dedicated exclusively to providing comprehensive inpatient and outpatient physical rehabilitation services. Sacred Heart provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation for head injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, orthopedic conditions, burns, and neuromuscular disorders. We also offer a coma recovery program.
We have been licensed as a physical rehabilitation hospital since 1965, and we hold accreditations from:
We also hold individual accreditation from CARF for our head injury inpatient and outpatient programs. We offer the following as a check sheet for your use when gathering information on various rehabilitation facilities: