A convalescent home is a short-term care option for recovery from an injury or surgery. The motive of these facilities is to return you to your home or a different senior housing facility after treatment is complete. The average stay can last anywhere from one to three months. You should consider the requirements, treatment options and costs before determining if a convalescent home is right for you.
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- Reviewed By Bart Astor
- Published: June 13, 2022
- Updated: October 10, 2022
- 6 min read time
- This page features 7 Cited Research Articles
- Edited By
What Is a Convalescent Home?
A convalescent home, also known as a skilled nursing facility or a rehabilitation facility, is a short-term care option for older Americans who need to recover from an illness, injury or surgery.
On average, those recovering in a convalescent home stay for 30 days to three months. Over 60% of those receiving care from a convalescent home recover and are discharged to their homes — others may require readmission for further treatment. It’s best to confirm that the services offered from a convalescent home will put you on the route to recovery.
Services Offered by a Convalescent Home
Most services offered from a convalescent home require coordinated care between therapists and doctors. This is because most who stay at a convalescent home require intense rehabilitation, which needs many outlets of care available.
- Physical, occupational and speech therapy
- Three meals a day
- Skilled nursing services
- Prescription drugs
- Medical supplies and equipment
- Private or semi-private room
Convalescent Home Staff
In a convalescent home, the staff will provide skilled care services. This means, registered nurses, physicians, case managers, licensed physical and occupational therapists will oversee your care plan.
There are specific requirements of care that the staff must provide to you throughout your stay at a convalescent home.
Convalescent Home Requirements
The U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has several requirement regulations to ensure you get the best care. This includes a minimum of at least three hours of physical, occupational or speech therapy for five to seven days a week. This is known as the three-hour rule.
You must meet with a physician solo at least three times a week. You also must meet with a team led by your physician at least once a week to ensure you’re on track.
According to an article from the National Library of Medicine, 60% of those admitted to a convalescent home must have one of the following 13 conditions. This is known as the 60% rule.
- Spinal cord injury
- Congenital deformity
- Major multiple trauma
- Fractured hip
- Brain injury
- Active polyarthritis
- Systemic vasculitis with joint involvement
- Specified neurologic conditions
- Severe osteoarthritis
- Knee or hip replacement
When Should You Consider a Convalescent Home?
You should only consider a convalescent home as a temporary senior housing option if you need short-term care for recovery purposes. It is most applicable to those who have one of the conditions from the 60% rule. If you need long-term care, you should not consider a convalescent home.
Having a short stay in a convalescent home isn’t uncommon for older Americans. Within one year, over two million Medicare beneficiaries have stayed in a convalescent home at least once.
A convalescent home is a good option for those with health insurance coverage as it can get expensive depending on the length of stay.
How Much Do Convalescent Homes Cost?
According to the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the standard daily cost of a convalescent home is $312. On average, most stay for 27 days, making your estimated total cost $8,424.
Keep in mind that this estimate is without coverage options. If you have Medicare, Medicaid or Medigap, then you may be able to reduce your costs through coverage.
Ways to Pay for a Convalescent Home Stay
Medicare offers coverage for your first 100 days at a convalescent home. Coverage options vary depending on the duration of your stay.
|Days 1-20||No coinsurance required|
|Days 21-100||Up to $194.60 coinsurance per day|
|Days 101+||You’re in charge of all costs|
If you have a low income and qualify for Medicaid, then there may be coverage options for a convalescent home. Keep in mind that coverage varies by state.
A medigap plan functions to fill the “gaps” of coverage left by Medicare. Medigap can help cover coinsurance costs not covered by Medicare, such as the $194.60 coinsurance after 21 days of care.
How Can You Find a Convalescent Home Near You?
If you believe a short-term stay at a convalescent home is the next step, the U.S Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has an online tool to help you find a Medicare-certified convalescent home near you. You will need to provide your zip code and select the provider type as “inpatient rehabilitation facilities” to get the right results.
While the tool makes it easy to find Medicare-certified care near you, there are several other factors to consider before choosing a convalescent home.
What to Look For in a Convalescent Home
When staying at a convalescent home, you should confirm that you’ll be receiving high-quality care with a skilled team.
Contact your state health department — typically, they can provide you with documentation on the quality of care at most convalescent homes. You can also ask for a copy of any recent complaint investigation reports for full transparency before you commit to a facility.
You should also create a list of questions that might impact your decision. For example, are living spaces clean? Are visitors allowed? Do the doctors and therapists seem motivated to bring their patients to a safe recovery? These are things to consider when looking for a convalescent home.
How Do Convalescent Homes Differ from Other Housing Options?
Other housing options, such as independent living, assisted living and nursing homes, all typically function as long-term care options. It’s important to note that the terms nursing home and convalescent home are often interchangeably used — but they are not the same. Unlike a convalescent home, nursing homes have long-term care options.
A convalescent home offers short-term care only, acting as a steppingstone from one housing option to the next. One can go in and out of a convalescent home as needed, depending on their health condition.
For example, if you are a senior living independently who recently fractured your hip, then you may choose to reside in a convalescent home during your recovery period. After your short-term stay, you can decide if you want to return to independent living or move into a different long-term care facility with medical assistance.
7 Cited Research Articles
- Medicare Payment Advisory Commission. (2021, March). Skilled Nursing Facility Services. Retrieved from https://www.medpac.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/mar21_medpac_report_ch7_sec.pdf
- Forrest, G., et al. (2019, September). Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6750298/#:~:text=Sixty%20percent%20of%20patients%20admitted,specified%20neurologic%20conditions%2C%20severe%20or
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2019). Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility Care. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/Pubs/pdf/10153-Medicare-Skilled-Nursing-Facility-Care.pdf
- Hakkarainen, T., et al. (2016, February). Outcomes of Patients Discharged to Skilled Nursing Facilities After Acute Care Hospitalizations. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26445466/
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Inpatient Rehabilitation Care. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/inpatient-rehabilitation-care
- U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (n.d.). Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Care. Retrieved from https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/skilled-nursing-facility-snf-care
- Assisted Senior Living. (n.d.). Convalescent Homes. Retrieved from https://www.assistedseniorliving.net/healthcare/convalescent-homes/