The odds are, at some point in a person’s life he or she will have to grapple with issues around long-term care. It may be a parent, child or spouse; it may be you. According to The Family Caregiver Alliance, 52 million Americans are informal or family caregivers who provide care for a family member age 20 or older, and one in five family households provide long term care to a person age 18 or older.
Long-term care often involves the most intimate aspects of people’s lives. When a person suffers a chronic condition, illness or trauma that limits his or her ability to carry out basic self-care tasks or home care tasks, they must rely on others to fill the gap. Because long-term care needs and services are wide-ranging and complex, there are many myths that surround these services. Here are some of the most frequently mentioned.
Myth 1: There isn’t really a difference between hospitals.
Answer: Not true. Just like cars, restaurants or hotels, hospitals differ in quality, the level and type of services provided, and the number of people they can serve. For example, the primary goal of a general hospital is to stabilize patients as a step toward recovery, and then discharge them. On the other hand, medically complex patients — those with severe, chronic health care needs, or multiple conditions who need extended recovery time and are too medically fragile to go home— are likely transferred to a long-term acute care (LTAC) hospital. Patients come to an LTAC hospital for several weeks until they are well enough to move on to the next level of their recovery. Transitional care centers (TCCs), skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, assisted living communities, home care and hospice are all examples of post-acute care available to patients beyond a general (acute care) hospital setting. Each one offers the targeted care a patient needs to improve his or her condition.
Myth 2: There is no difference between an LTAC hospital and a nursing home.
Answer: False. An LTAC hospital differs greatly from a skilled nursing facility or nursing home.