In the health care industry, our care homes are categorized as “long-term care,” as opposed to acute care (hospitals) or short-term rehabilitation (usually in institutional nursing facilities).  In other words, when someone comes to live with us, the assumption is that they will be with us for the long haul.

In contrast, the assumption for a hospital stay or a rehabilitative stay is that the individual is being made well so they can return home, wherever home might be—their personal residence, an independent living apartment, an assisted living apartment or some other arrangement.

But you probably know what happens when we “assume” things….

The Journal of the American Medical Association has published research concluding that elderly patients deteriorate mentally or physically in the hospital, even if they recover from the original illness or injury that brought them there.  About one third of patients over 70 years old and more than half of patients over 85 leave the hospital more disabled than when they arrived.

You really have to let those research findings sink in for a moment. 

Another author points out that hospitals are bad places for the elderly due to disease exposure that would not be present at home.  Lack of hospital staff training in issues such as how to care for dementia, how to help the elderly with activities of daily living (eating, using the bathroom, walking) and other issues can cause the elderly to regress while in hospital settings.

We’ve had an interesting trend take place in our homes.  Over the past year and a half, three families have come to us and said “you’ve helped our loved one improve so much, we think we can manage their care at home.”  And they have!

Many people ask us who we refer to when a resident can’t live with us any longer.  Our answer is simple: “We don’t make such referrals.”  Honestly I don’t remember the last time we had someone move from one of our homes to a skilled facility because we were unable to manage their end of life care.  Simply put, we are the highest level of care for our residents, and there is no better place for them to live.

The government recently gave our residents a gift, removing the therapy reimbursement limits for Medicare B.  What this means is that there is no reason for anyone to reside in a hospital or rehab unit for short, in-patient therapy stays.  They can now live with us in a Real Home, getting Real Care while they receive the same rehabilitative care from licensed therapists they would receive in an institution.

When someone comes to live with us, they are given abundant life, and often abundant choices.  Due to our team’s expertise in medication management, our focus on nutrition, and our individualized care execution, the person may return to a lower level of care.  Alternatively, the resident may live with us, but function at a higher level than when they moved in.  Or they may simply live longer, higher-quality lives—our studies demonstrate that residents live twice as long with us as in skilled facilities.

So what do we make of the assumptions that only hospitals heal the sick, and long-term care facilities are the last stop on one’s journey?

Our experience tell us that in many cases, the results may be just the opposite.

~Scott Schultz, Morningstar President and Owner