Renee Kinder

What does it mean to be a “skilled” rehab therapy provider?

If you look at the definition Medicare puts forth, you will grasp an understanding of how the regulations define skilled care.

Skilled care must be complex and sophisticated in nature.

Skilled care must follow evidenced-based practice patterns.

Skilled care must consider benefit, regardless of patient diagnosis or prognosis.

Therapists across the nation had reason to celebrate these skills last week. It was National Rehab Awareness Week after all.

It was a time for therapists to celebrate their skill sets and a time for therapists to increase awareness of the unique services they can provide.

However, in true therapist form, what I saw from rehab teams was that the week was used as a time to celebrate the patients that they serve on a day-to-day basis.

I heard stories of therapy teams dressing up with nurses as superheroes; completing balance carnivals; engaging patients through dance and music; uplifting spirits in the Houston area with wheelchair races, gardening, and spa days; and even devising a plan to “Make America Gait Again.”

One particular team, in their effort to increase awareness within their entire community, completed a project that I must admit brought tears to my eyes.

The therapists at Sunbury Community Health and Rehab in Pennsylvania decided to host a poster contest through engagement with their local school district. This was coordinated by their therapy program manager, Jolene Brown. 

Their posters were displayed throughout the local hospital and were all completed by local school students. Per Jolene, “It goes without saying, the young students truly understood the essence of project.”

Their works are displayed here.

In closing, we should all be reminded that our expectation of those providing skilled rehab care should go well beyond what we see set forth in Medicare manuals. 

So where is the “skill”?

Well let’s take an example from the Sunbury team on how they selected the winners for their poster contest.

They allowed the winners to be selected by individuals who have the best understanding of skill by reaching out to those on the receiving end — their patients.

They included them in judging with one being a community member who had suffered a traumatic brain injury and as a result is currently receiving physical, occupational and speech therapy services.

Per Jolene, “He used to be a phenomenal artist and now struggles to make lines connect.

Having the opportunity to engage in this project gave him a sense of meaning and excitement in his recovery process.

Renee Kinder, MS, CCC-SLP, RAC-CT currently serves as Director of Clinical Education for Encore Rehabilitation and acts as Gerontology Professional Development Manager for the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).