After any significant and catastrophic injury, it is important to choose the path that will get you the best recovery. A large part in that decision is picking the correct rehabilitation center for your injury. This is the second half of our top ten list intended to help you get the best rehabilitation and recovery. To see the first part of the list, see last week’s post.
Many nationally recognized centers conduct clinical studies in collaboration with leading experts at other hospitals, research centers, medical schools and universities around the world. The best clinical centers will work to develop, refine and evaluate new treatments, including drugs, surgical techniques, diagnostic tools, and various therapy interventions that will improve the outcomes of patients.
7. Patient Satisfaction
Many centers will actively promote their patient and family satisfaction scores. You should ask if you can speak to some of those patients and families who were polled and would be willing to discuss their experiences.
Rehabilitation centers may be certified by the Joint Commission and the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities. These accreditation authorities ensure local rehabilitation facilities meet basic standards for their services. Some facilities are included in the Model Systems of Care by the National Institutes of Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) (part of the U.S. Department of Education). Model systems must conduct research of interest to NIDRR and collect data on the specific injury type (spinal cord, burn, etc.). In order to gain and maintain expertise, these designated systems provide care to a significant volume of people with the specific type of injury.
9. Family Support
If you will have a prolonged stay at a rehabilitation facility, you will likely appreciate the convenience of having your family and support nearby. In addition, they will likely want to learn more about your condition, rehabilitation and your eventual return home. You will want to see the facilities where family can stay (if available) and the resources for education and training that is available. You will also want to know the level that family is involved with and engaged in the process, not only at the beginning, but also throughout the stay and after the discharge to home.
Some things that are helpful for families include:
- Basic needs such as housing, meals and parking
- Coordination of medical resources from public and private insurers
- Support and education for families
If you will require a personal care attendant to help with your activities of daily living, it will be important for your family to understand how to find and hire personal care attendants when you are home. You will also have to think about how to balance the needs that you have with any family that will support you in addition to the attendant.
10. Discharge Planning and Coordination
Choosing the rehabilitation facility is a first and critically important step on the road to recovery. It needs to be part of an overall plan for the rest of your recovery and lifelong adjustment. Some rehab centers will have discharge planners who will help you along the way. Discharge planners will:
- work with others, including your case manager, to coordinate ongoing medical and therapy care needs, including providers such as local independent living centers;
- incorporate referrals into their discharge planning;
- establish follow up care (with the center that you have chosen for your acute rehabilitation or another local center if you have traveled);
- make arrangements for someone locally to evaluate the home for modifications;
- provide referral to an appropriate physician(s) and other medical specialists in the community;
- ensure scheduled equipment evaluations for appropriate fit and function when home;
- establish thorough vocational evaluation and referrals;
- make referrals to other services and resources in the community.
In Summary, choose a center that has:
- Experience and expertise in your type of injury
- A continuum of services available and partners for acute care services
- Facilities and expertise in tailoring equipment and assistive technologies for your needs
- Family support, services and housing as needed
- Collaboration with other providers in referring patients to and from facilities
If you are able, TAKE A TOUR and GET A FEEL FOR YOURSELF!
Remember, the relatively short stay at a specialized rehab facility (including those far from home) can make a world of difference in your near and long term course of recovery.