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Wellness on Wheels: Thriving in Short-term Rehab

Short-term rehabilitation, or “rehab,” centers provide critical medical follow-up for patients in their first days after a hospital stay. These facilities are key to ensuring a continued high level of care that helps patients regain health, strength, and mobility. They can mean the difference between a frustrating rebound to the hospital and a seamless return to home.

Recovery requires more than just top-tier clinical care. It also involves providing opportunities for purposeful activity and engagement. One best-practice innovation is “Wellness on Wheels,” a mobile concierge program offering a range of portable activities for residents and their families.

Enjoying Recovery

“Short-term rehab residents work hard at their recovery,” says Callie Whitwell, chief operating officer at Lifetime Wellness. Along with the Wellness on Wheels program, the company offers an array of person-centered wellness, life enrichment, and recreational activities to assisted living, skilled nursing and rehabilitation, and memory care facilities throughout Texas and Oklahoma.

“After physical therapy, residents may not be as motivated to come out of their rooms and participate in group activities and events, but these interactions complement the healing process. We provide customized resources and meaningful activities residents can enjoy during their short stay in rehab – without having to leave their rooms.”

Engaging Residents

The Wellness on Wheels program, now in its 10th year, includes a mobile cart, supplies, and training to use in reaching out to short-term rehab residents. For example, after therapy exercises, an entertaining movie may be just the right activity to unwind. The program provides a DVD player or iPad, along with a variety of movies for watching with friends and family. For residents who want to keep their mental synapses firing, a “MindWorks” pack offers fun, stimulating cognitive activities, such as books, crossword puzzles, and portable arts and crafts activities – even coloring books for when the grandchildren are visiting.

Staff wheel the cart up and down the hall and look in on each resident’s room. “We share the contents of the cart,” Whitwell says. “If we don’t have what someone wants, say, a favorite magazine, we’ll make a note of that, track down whatever they’re looking for, and deliver it to them.”

Empowering Through Education

The program also provides educational content on a variety of health care topics, from joint replacements to general wellness tips. “We work to integrate education into rehab programs so that residents have a better understanding of what they can do to continue good health once they return home,” Whitwell says. “These materials help residents not only in better understanding their recovery plans but also in improving overall health literacy.”

Wellness on Wheels is offered as a ready-to-purchase program and kit for easy implementation. Lifetime Wellness also provides comprehensive programs with training and resource support for staff, along with full wellness department outsourcing.

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