Subacute care is provided on an inpatient basis for those
individuals needing services that are more intensive than those
typically received in skilled nursing facilities but less intensive
than acute care. For a patient to qualify for inpatient
rehabilitation they must be able to tolerate 3 hours of therapy per
day (speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, physical
therapy) at least 5 days per week. If the person cannot tolerate
this much therapy or no longer requires therapy at this intensive a
level, they may be better served at the subacute level.
Subacute units tend to be housed in skilled nursing facilities or
on skilled nursing units. Subacute may sometimes be found in
rehabilitation hospitals, although this is less common.
There is no distinct Medicare payment system for subacute care. The
same conditions of participation apply to both subacute and skilled
Speech-language pathologists working in subacute units provide the
same range of services seen in inpatient rehabilitation and skilled
nursing facilities, including speech, language,
cognitive-communication, and swallowing treatment. Patients have
similar etiologies, as well, including stroke, head injury,
dementia, and complex medical conditions.