What Is a Convalescent Home, and Is It Right For My Loved One?

Nate Birt

Written by Nate Birt on Mon May 22 2023.

Health worker helping woman walk.

If your loved one is on the road to recovery after surgery or illness, you might be exploring ways to help them heal. A convalescent home is a place that provides trained medical staff who can support your loved one. This article explores how a convalescent home works, when this type of facility might make sense, and how you can help your loved one heal here.

What is a Convalescent Home? 

A convalescent home is a facility that cares for a person while they recover from surgery or illness. For example, an older adult might spend several weeks in a convalescent home recovering from hip surgery. Or a child with special needs who has been sick could benefit from rest at a convalescent home.

Convalescent homes also go by other names, including:

  • Acute care facility

  • Inpatient care center

  • Rehabilitation (or rehab) center or hospital

  • Rehab skilled nursing facility 

At these locations, qualified nurses with in-depth medical training care for people who need help recuperating. For families unable to provide around-the-clock care at home or who might need extra support, a convalescent home can help.

What Services Do Convalescent Homes Provide?

Because convalescent homes provide 24/7 care, they can support your loved one in many ways. The focus is healing your loved one so they can improve and return home, so most services are focused on health care. These might include:

  • Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner

  • Managing and giving prescription medication

  • Giving nursing support 

  • Providing therapy services, including physical, occupational, or speech 

  • Offering optional private-duty nursing

  • Creating a comfortable living environment that could include amenities such as rooms that are semi-private, furniture including a phone or a TV, and personal care items such as toothpaste and razors

Ask the convalescent home you’re considering for a complete list of services. You can also ask for details on how they charge for those services, which are included automatically as part of your loved one’s stay, and which will cost extra.

How Can I Find a Convalescent Home Near Me?

The official Medicare website provides a search function that lets you find convalescent homes near you or your loved one. All you need to do is visit the Medicare search page and:

  • Type your address, ZIP code, or city into the appropriate box

  • Click the dropdown menu under Provider Type and select Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities

  • Click the Search button

You will be redirected to a new page that lists available skilled nursing in your area. In addition, some state health departments offer their own resources for residents. You can learn more with a quick online search.

How Do I Pay For a Convalescent Home? 

There are several popular ways to cover the costs of a convalescent home. Among them are:

  • Medicaid: This program covers certain skilled nursing help for qualifying patients at licensed nursing homes. This includes coverage for some personal care items, help with meals and dental care, medication support, and more.

  • Medicare: This government program offers coverage for a variety of services that convalescent homes provide. 

    • Part A can be used if your loved one’s doctor provides written documentation that their condition requires rehab. In these cases, your doctor and the staff of your chosen convalescent home collaborate to help your loved one heal. 

    • Part B can cover qualified expenses your loved one might incur in the rehab center itself. However, be aware there are certain things Medicare won’t cover, such as a dedicated private nurse to help your loved one or extra fees a convalescent home might charge for personal care products or access to a TV. You can review the financial amount of coverage Medicare will provide on its website.

  • Private insurance: If your loved one has private insurance, there might be opportunities to apply it toward expenses at a convalescent home. 

  • Savings: If your loved one has savings set aside for medical expenses, you can use these to cover some or all of the cost.

What’s The Difference Between a Nursing Home and a Convalescent Home? 

The primary difference between a nursing home and a convalescent home is the length of your loved one’s stay. A convalescent home provides care from trained nurses to help your loved one get better so they can return home. Stays can range from a few days to a month.

On the other hand, a nursing home might be a place where your loved one stays for months or even years. It might be a permanent residence, unlike a convalescent home, which is meant to be temporary. Both types of facilities benefit from the talents of skilled nurses who work to help your loved one heal and maintain good health.

Where Can I Learn More About Convalescent Homes?

You can learn more about the types of care available for your loved one after illness or surgery from the National Institute on Aging. Additionally, you can read up on ways to help your loved one stay healthy and avoid colds and the flu. By doing your research, you can ensure your loved one goes to the right convalescent home to get the rest and care they need to recover.

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Nate Birt
Nate Birt

Nate Birt is a healthcare writer with a journalism degree from University of Missouri. He lives with his wife and their four children on a small farm in Missouri.