Help Surgery-Bound Clients Get a Head Start on Selecting Post-Care Facilities

It can reduce the stress for them and their families at this difficult time.

By Jerilyn Klein

Finding subacute care for someone who has just undergone surgery can be daunting. Families may have to scramble to research subacute units, which are often housed in skilled nursing facilities. Sometimes a patient’s initial plan to convalesce at home or in a rehab facility, which requires the ability to participate in more intense therapy (at least three hours a day, five times a week), is suddenly derailed due to medical complications.

Although hospital case managers will try to find a patient a bed at a skilled nursing facility of the patient’s choice, they’re unlikely to offer much guidance on specific facilities and a patient’s top pick may not be available.

Financial advisors can reduce some stress by providing clients with this Nursing Home Checklist from Medicare.gov. It includes questions families should pose to several skilled nursing facilities prior to scheduled surgery. Although clients may not find it necessary to get answers to all the questions if a post-surgical stay is expected to be short, the checklist is also a good tool when making long-term nursing home decisions.

Advisors should inform clients that to qualify for Medicare coverage at a skilled nursing facility (SNF), they might have to meet the three-day rule: a medically necessary in-hospital stay of at least three consecutive days, excluding any pre-admission time spent in the emergency room or in outpatient observation. The federal government waived this rule at the start of the pandemic, but patients should confirm at the time of surgery.

Jerilyn Klein is editorial director of Rethinking65.

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