Asbury Heights Short-Term Rehab Balancing Quality and Enhancements

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By Cara Todhunter

Making changes at any organization involves a balance of numerous factors including quality of care, budget, staffing, research and communication.

At Asbury Heights, we are in the midst of substantial changes and improvements in our short-term rehabilitation area.

Our changes are beginning easily enough with the conversion of our tray line buffet into a country kitchen environment. We also purchased new televisions and comfortable home-like chairs for guest rooms. The provision of outstanding care isn’t about the amenities, but guest comfort does factor in.

When it comes to quality, Asbury has earned the privilege of having a five-star rating from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It’s an honor we have maintained for several years. The provision of quality care is a daily goal and an organization-wide effort. The rating lets us know that we are succeeding.

To improve quality and comfort for our short-term rehabilitation guests, they will no longer co-mingle with our long-term residents.

Individuals requiring short-term rehabilitation typically have had an acute event that required hospitalization – respiratory issues, knee replacements, hip replacements, fractures related to a fall – and they just want to get better and do it as fast as they can so they can get home. These short-term guests require a lot of oversight with their medical condition, medication administration and education about their new diagnosis. Family counseling related to discharge planning takes extensive time and consideration.

At any time, we have between 23 and 30 short-term rehabilitation guests, and having a short-term community devoted to their care enables us to better manage staffing ratios, physician communication and have close proximity to the therapy department for physical, speech and occupational therapies. It also lets rehab guests form relationships with other guests based on similar physical diagnoses and experiences.

Our next phase in our short-term rehab transformation is the renovation of a family lounge and a gym expansion.

The lounge will provide a larger variety of options for rehab guests and their families. Family members visiting guests range in age from infancy to individuals in their 70s and 80s. We will have meeting space for confidential conversations about discharge planning, a beverage bar, an area for television, a game table area and comfortable seating for family visits.

Our gym will expand to provide two therapy gym spaces. With a growing number of rehab guests, this expansion will allow us to give more room and privacy to individuals undergoing treatment.

When guests are ready to transition to their homes, our home evaluations help to ensure a safe transition. This may mean having to make changes to the physical environment such as adding adaptations or changing our therapy goals. Often, we need to make suggestions such as having families pull up mats or throw rugs from the floor, install a bedside commode or change the positioning of the bed. There are also times when we need to alter a rehab guest’s discharge date. They may have told us there are four steps to the door, and when we do our evaluation, we find there are four steps and then another fourteen!

A great Asbury benefit for short-term rehab is the opportunity to have a respite stay. Some rehab guests no longer need short-term rehab, but they may live alone and not be confident to return home yet. We have the feasibility and flexibility to offer a respite stay in one of our personal care venues.

At Asbury, we are constantly looking for ways to improve the delivery of care and the guest experience. When we’re considering a change, we begin by examining the best practices found in research. We use those outcomes as the evidence to drive our change process and ultimately our care.

We have managed to make substantial changes to improve the guest experience in our short-term rehab area while balancing it with a high level of quality care. Learn more about Asbury’s rehab program at www.asburyheights.org.

Cara Todhunter is senior administrative director, Health Care Services, for Asbury Heights.