Care Guides > Convalescent Care Explained

Convalescent Care Explained


For most people, all it takes to get better from an illness is for it to run its course. Unfortunately, more vulnerable members of society have to think about their recovery, especially if they’ve been left incapacitated.

In this article, Lottie looks at how convalescent homes are used to help patients get back on their feet without having to stay in a hospital.

What is a Convalescent Home?

Convalescent homes are short term care facilities where people stay when they need routine care from doctors and nurses, but aren’t unwell enough to need a hospital. They are sometimes referred to as Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities (IRF).

Less common than they were decades ago, modern convalescent homes are integrated with nursing homes and inpatient rehabilitation units.

Like nursing homes, convalescent homes are staffed by medical workers. The homes provide a comfortable environment with food, lodgings, pharmaceuticals, and therapeutic services from trained professionals.

Who Needs Convalescent Care?

Convalescent homes provide temporary rehabilitation for patients (usually senior ones) who are recovering from surgery, strokes, chronic disease and acute illnesses. The main focus of these homes is helping patients readjust to normal everyday life.

Recovery plans may include personal care, postoperative care, counselling, physical therapy, speech therapy, and occupational therapy.

What Types of Therapy are Available in Convalescent Homes?

While every convalescent home is different, most offer the following types of therapy:

  • Counselling: Psychologists help you develop motivational skills, attitudes and coping skills to improve mental wellbeing.
  • Physical therapy: Physiotherapists devise exercise plans and activities to help you regain strength, coordination and motor skills.
  • Speech therapy: Speech therapists use exercises and routines to help you regain useful communication skills.
  • Occupational therapy: If you suffer from physical, sensory or motor problems, an occupational therapist can help you maintain and develop functional skills for daily living.

Example of Convalescent Care for Stroke Victims

If you’re recovering from a stroke, you will need to stay at a convalescent home to ensure optimal recovery. Once there, a team made up of qualified medical professionals is assigned to you.

The team will meet every week to discuss your progress and coordinate your recovery. A team helping a stroke victim would look a little like this:

1. Doctors

Headed by a consultant, doctors work in teams to help coordinate your recovery.

2. Nursing staff

Nursing staff are made up of qualified healthcare workers and nurses who have previous experience in stroke rehabilitation. They will provide care and assistance throughout your stay.

3. Physiotherapist

Strokes cause muscle weakness, tightness, incoordination and loss of balance. The physiotherapist will help you redevelop lost attributes through regular activities and exercises.

4. Occupational therapist

The occupational therapist will assess your physical, cognitive, and social needs to better identify your strengths and weaknesses. Cognitive tests assess how much the stroke has affected your concentration, safety, problem solving, vision, and awareness.

These tests also provide the basis for a personalised programme of treatment based on your lifestyle preferences. Given time, the programme should improve your participation in everyday activities.

5. Speech therapist

Strokes can cause difficulty in speech cognition, writing, and articulation. The speech therapist will support you and your family with advice regarding the best methods for post-stroke communication.

Strokes sometimes cause difficulties in swallowing. The speech therapist will help assess and manage these issues.

6. Dietitian

It’s vital that you receive the right vitamins and nutrients to aid your stroke recovery. It might be that nutritional supplements and certain nutrient-rich foods are required.

In some instances, a feeding tube will be used to ensure the safe transfer of food. Dietitians manage all of this, as well as food intake and malnutrition prevention.

7. Social workers

Strokes can be really hard to deal with, especially for friends and family. The social worker will provide support and guidance to help alleviate any concerns they might have.

With access to a large range of resources, they will carry out an examination to ensure your social needs are met upon leaving convalescent care. The social worker will also help your family and friends work out the best way to fund your rehabilitation needs.

Convalescent Home and Nursing Home Differences

It’s easy to confuse convalescent homes and nursing homes because many nursing homes now offer convalescent care. Though people often refer to nursing and convalescent homes interchangeably, their facilities are actually quite different!

Short Term vs Long Term Care

The main difference between nursing homes and convalescent homes is the length of patient stay. Nursing homes are designed for long-term nursing care, whereas convalescent homes are designed for short-term rehabilitative care.

Rehabilitation vs Dependence

Nursing home residents are unable to live independently and require significant daily care for their quality of life. Residents of convalescent homes on the other hand, are only there to rehabilitate from surgery or acute illness.

Once their stay is over, residents return home to independent living.

Daily Schedule

Another way convalescent homes differ from nursing homes is by the schedules of their residents. As convalescent homes offer temporary facilities, most residents spend large chunks of their day in therapy.

In nursing homes however, residents live there permanently. As such, their time is spent maintaining good health rather than working towards a recovery.

How Long is Convalescent Care?

Your length of stay in a convalescent home completely depends on how severe your illness, injury or condition is. Comfort is a huge priority in convalescent care, so it’s unlikely you’ll find any rushed treatment plans.

Patients often stay in convalescent care for either a few weeks, or several months.

Convalescent Care Costs

Convalescent care generally costs the same as nursing homes at £800 to £1000 per week. Fees may vary depending on the type of care you need, and whether you’re staying at a facility, or in your own accommodation.

Can You Have Convalescent Care in Your Own Home?

Yes, some facilities offer convalescent care to patients who prefer to remain living in their own homes. Recovery is all about comfort, and sometimes there’s nothing more comfortable than your own home!

In this situation, a carer would visit your home once or twice a day to administer therapy and assist you around the house. This option depends on the care home you choose, as well as the severity of your illness.

How to Find a Convalescent Home

You can find convalescent facilities in most nursing homes and inpatient rehabilitation units. Lottie can help you locate your nearest and best nursing home, free of charge!

Once you have your free care home shortlist, you can make further enquiries about convalescent care.

How Do I Prepare For Convalescent Care?

If you know in advance that you will need convalescent care, it’s best to contact the nursing home a couple of weeks before to reserve a bed. However, if you unexpectedly find yourself requiring convalescent care, we advise you to ring care homes to find out about availability.

Before convalescent care begins, an assessment is carried out to ensure the nursing home understands your needs and requirements. The assessment will help the specialists work out what treatment and care you’ll need, and how long you will be staying.

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