Before leaving the hospital, you may be wondering where you’ll go next. Your health care team may have talked about a few options depending on what kind of care you will need. Here is some information about the different places you may go in your next step toward recovery.


Discharge home

A majority of hospitalized patients are able to return to their home after discharge. Your health care team will consider several factors to determine whether this is the best step for you. In order to go home, health care providers often recommend that patients—with help from family or caregivers if available—are able to perform certain tasks. These include getting and using medications, performing self-care activities (like bathing, using the bathroom and brushing your teeth), eating a healthy diet, and following up with health care providers. If you are concerned about being able to do any of these things, please speak to your health care team.

Your insurance and services available in your area may also influence whether or not you can be safely discharged home. Arranging for home services such as visiting nurses, hospice or infusion services may allow some patients to go home even if they need ongoing care.

Discharge to another care facility

If your health care team recommends discharge to a facility other than home, there are several different options to consider. Finding the right place for you involves matching your needs with the possible care facilities. Things to consider include the level and type of care provided, and the location and environment of the facility. After a referral is made to a possible facility and you are screened for acceptance, you’ll be asked to consent to the transfer. If you are concerned about your placement, please speak with your health care team. It is within you and your family’s rights to decline a certain facility and discuss different options.

Patients are most often discharged to:

Inpatient rehabilitation facilities — Most suitable for patients who need multidisciplinary therapy (e.g., physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, orthotic or prosthetic services) and are able to participate in intensive treatment. Physician supervision is provided at least three days a week.

Long-term acute care hospitals (LTAC) — Most suitable for patients who require daily monitoring and complex medical interventions. This may include patients with complex wounds, chest tubes, ventilatory dependency, or multi-organ failure.

Skilled nursing facilities (SNF), transitional care units, and subacute units — Most suitable for patients with a "qualifying event" that includes a three-night hospital stay and who require skilled nursing or rehabilitation for at least one hour daily five days a week. All provide similar services, though transitional care units are hospital-based and have easier access to hospital-based services.

Extended care facilities (ECF) — Most suitable for patients who have exhausted their assets, require assistance with a least three activities of daily living and require skilled nursing supervision and medication management. Extended care facilities provide long-term care.

Tips from Fellow Patients
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