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Long-term medical care: What are LTCHs, SNFs, and IRFs?

Published Sep 24, 2021 • By Courtney Johnson

A hospitalization can, for many reasons, be prolonged and last a relatively long time. However, specialized centers exist to accommodate patients on a long-term basis. Long-term care hospitals (LTCHs), skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) and Inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) are among them. These facilities allow for continued hospitalization if necessary. 

What are these different facilities? How are they different? 

We explain it all in our article!

Long-term medical care: What are LTCHs, SNFs, and IRFs?

What is an IRF? 

The main objective of inpatient rehabilitation facilities (IRFs) is to allow patients to regain their physical autonomy and prevent readmissions. A multidisciplinary team of nurses, doctors, physical therapists and other health professionals provide patients with personalized care

In most cases, patients admitted to these facilities have conditions related to stroke, brain damage or other neurological problems.   

If the patient requires more extensive care, other facilities will be more suitable. 

What is a SNF?  

SNFs, or skilled nursing facilities, allow patients leaving the hospital who do not require intensive care to have additional follow-up before being able to go home.   

The services offered in these structures are nursing care, i.e. daily care (help with dressing, washing, etc.) and care related to the patient's illnesses (dressing, taking medication, etc.). These structures are adapted to the follow-up care of patients who have suffered heart attacks, fractures, surgeries, etc.   

The staff consists of doctors and nurses, who will do most of the care.   

These services are therefore useful for patients who require a longer period of support than the initial hospitalization can provide. However, if more extensive care is required, it will be necessary to turn to another facility such as an LTCH. 

What is an LTCH? 

Long-term care hospitals (LTCHs) are used to care for patients requiring hospitalization for more than 25 days. Generally, these are patients dealing with serious illnesses (e.g. organ failure). Care such as respiratory therapy, pain management, treatment of head trauma or complex injuries can be provided. 

In this type of facility, patients can have access to services such as long-term chronic care servicerehabilitation services, etc. The latter is particularly beneficial for patients leaving the hospital with a new disability. Indeed, these patients often face a daunting adaptation of their lifestyle and process of mental acceptance of this radical change. LTCHs can be a key source of aid for such patients, facilitating links with trusted professionals or patient organizations.   

Finally, in order to better cope while in an SNF or on a long-term hospital stay, patients may turn to the simple comforts, such as clothing. Fortunately, a few companies exist, such as Dignity Pajamas, helping patients maintain their comfort and dignity while undergoing long-term care. This sleepwear is a great alternative to an unattractive hospital gown and makes it easy for the caregiver to dress and change the patient with adaptive back velcro closures, all while maintaining their appearance. 

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avatar Courtney Johnson

Author: Courtney Johnson, Health Writer

Courtney is a content creator at Carenity and focuses on writing health articles. She is particularly passionate about exploring the topics of nutrition, well-being, and psychology.

Courtney holds a double... >> Learn more

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