It can be hard to understand the differences between post-acute and long-term care, especially if you’re not familiar with the terminology. When making a decision about what type of care is right for you or a loved one, it’s important to understand the differences between post-acute and long-term care.
In this blog, we are breaking down the differences between post-acute and long-term care so that you can make an informed decision about what’s best for you or your loved one.
What Is Post-acute Care?
Post-acute care (PAC) is a health care service that provides medical and rehabilitative care to patients who have been discharged from the hospital but still need more care before they can go home.
PAC services are typically provided by skilled nursing facilities, long-term care hospitals, home health agencies, and hospices. These providers work with patients and their families to develop a plan of care that meets the patient’s needs and goals.
The goal of PAC is to help patients recover from their illness or injury and return to their prior level of functioning. PAC services are an important part of the continuum of care and can make a significant difference in the outcome of a patient’s illness or injury.
The different types of post-acute care include:
- Skilled nursing care: This type of care is typically provided by a skilled nursing facility (SNF). SNFs are licensed by the state and provide 24-hour nursing care, as well as therapy and other services.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy pertains to the restoration of function and movement.
- Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy helps patients regain the skills necessary for daily living.
- Speech-language pathology: Speech-language pathology services focus on the evaluation and treatment of communication disorders.
- Wound care: Wound care is a type of post-acute care that focuses on the prevention and treatment of wounds.
These types of care are provided by a team of specialists who work together to develop a plan of care that meets the patient’s needs. PAC services are typically short-term and are provided for a limited time period. The length of time that PAC services are required will vary depending on the type and severity of the illness or injury.
What Are the Benefits of Post-acute Care?
There are many benefits to post-acute care. PAC can help patients recover from an illness or injury and return to their previous level of functioning. PAC can also provide patients with the support they need to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.
Additionally, PAC can provide patients with the opportunity to receive care from a variety of different health care professionals. This interdisciplinary approach to care can help patients achieve their best possible outcomes.
Post-acute Care Technology
PAC is an ever-evolving field of medicine. New technologies are constantly being developed that can help patients recover from their illnesses and injuries.
Some examples of post-acute care technology include:
- Virtual reality therapy
- Robotic rehabilitation
- Wearable sensors
These technologies can help patients in a number of ways. For example, virtual reality therapy can be used to help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by exposing them to their triggers in a controlled environment. Robotic rehabilitation can be used to help patients regain movement and function after a stroke or other neurological injury. And wearable sensors can be used to monitor patients’ vital signs and activity levels.
What Is Long-term Care?
Long-term care (LTC) is a type of health care service that helps people with chronic illnesses or disabilities live independently. LTC can be provided in a variety of settings, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health care. Although the majority of LTC services are provided by family members or other informal caregivers, formal long-term care services are also available through government programs and private insurance.
LTC is distinct from other types of health care services in that it is typically long-term, requires a higher level of assistance, and is focused on supporting activities of daily living rather than curing an illness. For example, someone who needs help with dressing, bathing, and using the restroom would likely require long-term care services. In contrast, someone who is recovering from a surgical procedure would not need long-term care services since they would only need short-term assistance.
The need for long-term care services usually arises due to the onset of a chronic illness or disability. However, there are also many older adults who require long-term care services due to the natural aging process. For example, as people age, they may begin to experience problems with vision, hearing, and mobility which can make it difficult for them to live independently.
There are a number of different long-term care options available, including in-home care, assisted living, and nursing homes. The type of long-term care that is required will depend on the individual’s needs and preferences.
Examples of long-term care facilities include:
- In-home care: This type of long-term care is provided in the individual’s home by a caregiver. It can be an excellent option for people who want to maintain their independence but need some help with activities of daily living such as bathing, dressing, and eating.
- Assisted living: Assisted living facilities provide a supportive environment for people who need assistance with activities of daily living but do not require the level of care provided in a nursing home. Residents of assisted living facilities typically have their own private apartments or rooms and have access to a variety of amenities and services.
- Nursing homes: Nursing homes are designed for people who need 24-hour care and supervision. Nursing homes provide a variety of health and personal care services, including skilled nursing care, rehabilitation services, and social activities.
What Are the Benefits of Long-term Care?
There are many benefits to long-term care, including:
- Improved quality of life: Long-term care can help you maintain your independence and improve your quality of life.
- Peace of mind: Long-term care can give you and your family peace of mind knowing that you will be taken care of if your health needs to change.
- Increased life expectancy: Studies have shown that people who receive long-term care live longer than those who do not.
- Improved health: Long-term care can help improve your overall health and well-being.
Long-term Care Technology
Long-term care facilities are using technology to improve the quality of care they provide. Some of the ways long-term care facilities are using technology include:
- Electronic health records: Long-term care facilities are using electronic health records to track patient information and monitor their health.
- Telehealth: Telehealth is being used to connect patients with their doctors and nurses.
- Remote patient monitoring: Remote patient monitoring is being used to monitor patients’ vital signs and health status.
What Are the Differences Between Post-acute Care and Long-term Care?
Post-acute care and long-term care are both types of health care that can be required when someone has a chronic illness or disability. However, there are some key differences between the two. Let us explore these differences below:
- Post-acute care is typically shorter in duration than long-term care.
- Post-acute care focuses on rehabilitation and recovery, while long-term care is focused on maintenance and support.
- Post-acute care is usually provided in a hospital or skilled nursing facility, while long-term care can be provided in a variety of settings, including the home, an assisted living facility, or a nursing home.
- Post-acute care is covered by insurance, while long-term care is not typically covered by insurance.
How Do I Determine Which Is the Right Choice for My Loved One?
The best way to determine which type of care is right for your loved one is to consult with their doctor. A doctor can help you understand the needs of your loved one and what type of care would be best suited for them.
You should also consider the preferences of your loved one when making a decision about post-acute or long-term care. If your loved one prefers to be in their own home, then post-acute care may be the best option.
If you are still unsure about which type of care is right for your loved one, you can always consult with a professional care manager. A care manager can help you understand the different types of care available and make a recommendation based on the needs of your loved one.
How Much Does Each Type of Care Cost?
The cost of post-acute care can vary depending on the type of services your loved one needs. In general, post-acute care is less expensive than long-term care.
Long-term care can be very costly, but there are ways to help offset the cost. Many states have programs that offer financial assistance for people who need long-term care.
You may also be able to get help from your loved one’s insurance company. Some insurance policies cover the cost of long-term care, but coverage can vary depending on the policy. No matter which type of care you choose for your loved one, the most important thing is that they receive the care they need.
Making the decision about post-acute or long-term care can be difficult, but it is important to make sure that you are making the best decision for your loved one. With the help of a doctor or care manager, you can be sure that you are making the right choice for your loved one’s care.