Do You Know the Difference Between Long-Term Care and Short-Term Care?

Category News & Blog | Time | Published June 23, 2023

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(Hint: It’s About More Than the Length of Time.)

It’s true that someone who is receiving long-term care can typically expect a longer stay than someone who’s receiving short-term care. But there’s more to it than simply the duration of care.

Understanding the difference between the two can help you decide what kind of care you or your loved one needs. It can also help you set your expectations because the goals are different for long-term versus short-term care.

What Is Long-Term Care?

While each place that provides this type of care may have its own definition of long-term care, the most common type of long-term care is personal care. This is help with what’s referred to as the activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing, grooming, eating, using the toilet, and transitioning from seated to standing or getting in and out of bed.

People often need long-term care when they have a debilitating or progressive medical condition that prevents them from living safely at home, yet they don’t need to be in a hospital that provides acute care. A person in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease or someone who has experienced a severe stroke are examples of people who might require long-term care.

Comprehensive medical care is available around the clock for those receiving long-term care.

The duration of long-term care is indefinite; the goal is to help people live as independently and safely as possible.

What Is Short-Term Care?

It can be helpful to think of short-term care as temporary care for the purpose of rehabilitation. The intent of short-term care is to help someone recover from an illness, injury or surgery so they can return to their active, independent lifestyle.

Usually, short-term care fills the gap when people are discharged from the hospital but are not yet able to manage on their own in their usual living setting.

Services include medical care and monitoring by a team of doctors and nurses, along with therapeutic services (occupational, physical and speech therapy) to help people regain their independence and quality of life. The rate of recovery varies from one person to the next, so the duration of short-term care might last anywhere from a couple of weeks to several months.

Compared with the clinical and often impersonal setting of a hospital, rehabilitation centers offer a more comfortable, welcoming environment for people while they’re recovering.

Medicare and many private health plans may cover some or all of the cost of short-term rehabilitation services. Coverage depends on a number of factors, such as the duration of care, whether the care was preceded by a hospital stay, and whether the care is required for recovery from an illness, injury or surgery (versus care for a chronic health condition).

Who Can Benefit From Short-Term Care

Doctors often recommend short-term rehabilitation when their patients’ health issues require around-the-clock medical care and support. This type of care may be appropriate for many medical circumstances and health conditions, such as:

  • Surgery or serious illness. After undergoing surgery or experiencing a serious illness, adults of any age may benefit from recovering in a short-term rehabilitation setting, where they can receive additional care and support from a team of experts.
  • Orthopedic surgery and joint replacement. These are major surgeries that can require an extended period of physical therapy for a full recovery. Physical therapists can develop personalized care plans with exercises designed to strengthen muscles, improve circulation, reduce pain and minimize post-surgery risks. Through occupational therapy, people can overcome their physical impairments or limitations and regain the skills they need in everyday life.
  • Heart failure. People with heart failure require special care and monitoring to manage and treat their symptoms. Physical therapy can help them gradually increase their daily activity level, improve mobility, reduce pain, and prevent or limit permanent disabilities caused by injury or disease. A combination of care and support can help restore function and may reduce the risk of future complications.
  • Cardiac and pulmonary care. Individuals with cardiac and pulmonary conditions can rely on short-term rehabilitation to ensure they receive the proper medicine, therapy, physical activity and nutrition their doctor has prescribed or recommended.
  • Respiratory rehabilitation. In addition to offering around-the-clock care, many short-term rehabilitation centers have resources to help people who have breathing issues improve their breathing quality.
  • IV therapy. Various medical conditions call for IV therapy. In a short-term rehabilitation center, people who require IV therapy have a team of health professionals providing their care, including nurses who monitor their health and ensure they receive the correct dosages.
  • Wound care. Acute and chronic wounds require close attention to prevent infection. For those that are slow to heal, a procedure known as vacuum-assisted closure, or wound vac, can be used to help speed the process.

Long-Term Care and Short-Term Rehabilitation at Cottage Grove Place

We offer both long-term care and rehabilitation services in our Health Care Center, which features some of the most spacious private and semi-private rooms you’ll find in Cedar Rapids. The center’s team is staffed by experienced nurses, certified nursing assistants, occupational, physical and speech therapists, attending physicians/nurse practitioners and our medical director.

Impressive Amenities

Anyone staying in the Health Care Center has access to the same top-rated amenities our independent living residents enjoy, including delicious meals prepared by our culinary staff, our fitness center, salon and spa, billiards room and the Cottage Grill bistro.

Convenient Location

Our location in the heart of Cedar Rapids allows for efficient transitions from hospitals and other health care providers across the city. Our accessible location is also convenient for friends and family members who want to visit.

Direct Admissions Welcome

As a LifeCare® community, we ensure that Cottage Grove Place residents have priority access to the continuum of care we offer, including assisted living and memory care, should they need it—and at a predictable cost.

Even in light of that consideration, with 64 beds in our Health Care Center, we have ample space to accept direct admissions from hospitals, physician clinics and other organizations throughout the greater Cedar Rapids area.

Full Range of Services

Our highly experienced clinical staff can provide care for everything from a sore throat to wounds and broken bones. All patients in the Health Care Center can count on us to partner with their physicians so they receive the care they need while here in our community.

We also partner with local organizations to offer choices for palliative care and hospice care as part of our long-term care support.

Interested in Learning More About Us?

If you would like to know more about Cottage Grove Place and the care available in our community, we encourage you to contact us. We’ll gladly answer your questions.

We can also set up a visit so you can experience in person what it would be like if you or a loved one were to come and stay with us for short- or long-term care—or, better yet, become a resident.

However we can best serve you, we’re here to help.

Featured Image: – Yuri A / Shutterstock

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