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The Methodology of Restorative Healthcare

What happens in healthcare when a crisis is past and the need for acute care and rehabilitation services is over? The next steps can be complex to navigate for patients, family members and even healthcare providers, but what happens next can make a significant difference to a patient in terms of their ability to sustain the skills learned in physical rehabilitation.

Physical rehabilitation and restorative healthcare are complementary to one another, but quite different in nature and goals. Rehabilitation is skilled care provided by licensed therapists and their assistants. The care and assessments are complex and patients might participate in rehabilitation activities up to seven days a week for an extended period of time.

When a patient has met treatment goals and achieved the full benefit of rehabilitation services and is no longer expected to make further progress, it is important to ensure that they are able to retain the skills that they recovered during rehabilitation. Restorative care is valuable in helping patients to improve and/or prevent further deterioration of their condition, teaching residents how to safely navigate daily tasks, adjusting to new or different physical limitations, preventing complications that could further limit function, and improving the quality of life.

Restorative Healthcare - The Breadth of Services  

Once a patient is no longer receiving acute or rehabilitation services, what happens next can help a patient maintain their ability to function at their highest possible level. Restorative nursing focuses on activities that promote physical, mental, and psychosocial well-being. Restorative programs are quite wide ranging and can include the following services:  

  • Passive and active range of motion improvement is probably one of the most common goals for restorative services. Activities and exercises that maintain or improve a joint’s range of motion and flexibility may also focus on ligaments, tendons, muscles, and bones.
  • Bed mobility and the ability to transfer to or out of bed is another of the most common goals of restorative care. Can the patient get out of bed on their own, can they move from one side of the bed to the other, and can they move from the foot to the head of the bed without assistance?
  • Activities of daily life are also frequent goals of restorative care. Activities such as bathing, dressing, and grooming are essential to maintaining function and independence.
  • Braces, splints, and wraps can be essential to maintaining function, but patients frequently need a good orientation on how and when to apply and remove supportive devices. Amputation and prosthesis care is also essential for patients needing to adapt to new amputations.
  • Communication is another key goal of restorative healthcare and might include speech pathology interventions or assessments, help with receptive or expressive communication or reading and writing.
  • Cognitive retraining can help patients with cognition, memory, and management of dementia symptoms.
  • Therapies that address eating, swallowing and dining assistance can help patients with swallowing and other feeding disorders.

Restorative Healthcare – What are the Goals?

While rehabilitation medicine and restorative healthcare occupy separate places on the continuum of care, they do have one thing in common. Establishing treatment goals is important for both. Both should have goals that are measurable, unique to the patient, and as specific as possible. The care plan should address these goals and be written with input from the patient and family members. As in any goal-setting efforts, the goals should be specific, reasonable, and attainable within a specific period of time.

In addition to the overall goals of maintaining optimal physical, mental and psychosocial function, other goals might include:

  • Increasing the patient’s independence
  • Preserving existing function
  • Promoting safety
  • Improving function/minimizing deterioration

Restorative Healthcare – The Benefits

Restorative healthcare provides the kinds of interventions that result in a patient’s ability to live safely and independently for a longer period of time. Extending optimal physical and mental skills and retaining and/or improving those gained through more intensive physical rehabilitation are the ultimate benefits of restorative healthcare. Patients receiving restorative care may maintain or experience a slower rate of decline in their ability to perform the activities of daily living and therefore it can help them to maintain a healthier, more independent lifestyle for a longer period of time.

There is a long list of challenges for providers across the care continuum, outside of acute care. For example, with consistent wage pressures, shifting compliance regulations, and rising acuity levels among resident populations, the skilled nursing and LTC workforce is feeling more pressure than ever before. HealthStream works with organizations throughout non-acute care to address these challenges, from keeping pace with regulatory requirements to engaging and developing competent staff who can satisfy the demands of increased patient complexity. By partnering with HealthStream, organizations are equipped to seamlessly manage the pressures of surveyor visits, while remaining focused on high-quality patient and resident care. Learn more about Healthstream solutions for non-acute care organizations.

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