When you or a loved one need skilled nursing care, it’s important to understand the differences between short-term and long-term care. These forms of care differ in terms of not only timeframe but also the services provided and the goals of care. Understanding these differences can help you choose the type of services you or your loved one may need.
There are several areas in which short-term care and long-term care differ.
Short-term care, as the name implies, is designed to be temporary. Patients rely on short-term care when their condition or health is expected to improve but they need assistance with medical care, monitoring, therapy, or daily activities until then.
Unlike long-term care, short-term care is very goal-oriented. This type of care is oriented toward helping the patient return home or resume their normal activities and function.
The goal of long-term care is typically preserving the patient’s quality of life and health as much as possible. When delivered in a facility, long-term care often includes amenities to help with these goals such as social activities, salon services, and transportation.
Short-term care typically focuses on custodial and medical services. Someone who needs short-term care may benefit from assistance with daily activities, household help, and rehabilitation services until they recover their independence.
Because patients who need long-term care are typically struggling with a chronic, debilitating, and/or progressive condition, additional services are typically necessary. Comprehensive services are often provided and may include personal care, therapeutic, and medical care.
Rehabilitation services are frequently part of both short-term and long-term care but, while in short-term care they are offered to help patients regain independence, they are offered to patients in long-term care to reduce pain and improve mobility as much as possible.