Ask the Expert: Rebecca Elon MD, MPH, Chief Medical Officer for Future Care

Q. Who needs a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility?
Most people who are hospitalized are able go home directly from the hospital once they are discharged by their physician. Some, however, may require support and care in a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility, as they work to strengthen, recondition and regain the ability to function independently, prior to going home after a hospital stay.
Some patients may benefit from rehabilitation in a skilled nursing facility following a surgical procedure, ranging from an elective hip or knee replacement, repair of a hip fracture, open heart surgery, back surgery or major abdominal surgery. Others may need rehabilitation as part of their continued progress in recovering from a medical illness that has caused weakness and an inability to care for one’s self independently at home. The typical rehabilitation stay in a skilled nursing facility lasts for several weeks and ends when a patient is strong enough to go home and function independently, or with some support from family members and loved ones.
Q. Who is on a rehabilitation team?
Rehabilitation teams are typically comprised of physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech language therapists, all working toward a common goal, based on each patient’s individualized care plan. Each patient’s care team also includes physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, social workers and dieticians. Some FutureCare facilities offer special programs for patients who need hemo-dialysis services, specialized cardiac or pulmonary rehabilitation, or oversight throughout the process of weaning from mechanical ventilation, with respiratory therapists present around the clock.
Q. Can you tell me more about “long-term” residential care?
Skilled nursing facilities provide long-term residential care when a patient’s ongoing needs exceed the capacity of what their family members can provide at home. People suffering dementia, paralysis from a stroke, or a combination of cognitive and physical impairments as seen in advanced Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, may all need long-term nursing facility care at some point in their lives. Attentive, around-the-clock nursing care and medical care, including rehabilitation, specialized nutritional planning and personalized activities are all part of a comprehensive approach, taken to ensure the highest quality of care and life, for residents. Hospice care is also available when needed, to assure the highest quality of care for people approaching the end of life.
Q. What else do I need to know about searching for a nursing home?
Choosing a skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility for yourself or your loved one can be a daunting task. By taking the time to do some research, understand your options and tour local facilities, you can find the setting that will best meet your needs.