Creating a Subacute Care Unit


What is a Subacute care unit?

The definition of Subacute Care that has been developed is as follows:

Subacute care is comprehensive inpatient care designed for someone who has an acute illness, injury, or exacerbation of a disease process. It is goal oriented treatment rendered immediately after, or instead of, acute hospitalization to treat one or more specific active complex medical conditions or to administer one or more technically complex treatments, in the context of a person’s underlying long-term conditions and overall situation.

This means that the subacute care unit is usually more intensive care than traditional nursing, but less intensive than the acute care that one might require at a hospital. Subacute care is a new and rapidly growing discipline in the United States. A subacute care unit merges the technology available in a hospital with the efficient operation of a skilled nursing facility. Often nursing facilities will develop a team to work with the patient with the goal of restoring activities of daily living.

How does a Subacute care unit differ from a traditional nursing unit?

Since patients in a subacute care unit need more specialized care than traditional nursing patients, and the goal is to return them to the activities of daily living, there are additional facilities required to provide that care. While continuing to have all of the requirements of a traditional nursing wing such as residence rooms, clean and soiled utility rooms, medicine prep rooms, and nutrition stations, along with a nursing station, subacute care units also have occupational therapy and physical therapy, sometimes speech therapy, and often have an “Activities of Daily Living” suite consisting of a residential style bathroom, kitchen, and dinette.

Activities of Daily Living

Activities of Daily Living

The ADL suite is designed to help residents re-learn typical house-hold skills before the subacute care team will feel confident in their abilities to function on their own once again.

Subacute care units may also contain “isolation” rooms of varying levels depending on the requirements of the patient. Because infectious diseases are easily transmitted through contamination of the air, a minimum number of isolation rooms is required. This requirement is set by each State, and can sometimes vary.

 How can an architect help?

Subacute care units should be designed to convey a message. They should feel comfortable, and have a sense of home, but also have a strong emphasis on healing. Successful subacute care facilities do not happen by accident, but rather through the team work and careful planning by the owners, administrators, architect, and qualified team of consultants. By bringing the right team together you can construct the project on time and within the intended budget. To achieve this goal, our team is familiar with facility licensure standards and certificate of need requirements, is creative, is able to envision cost effective ways to incorporate excellence in design elements that have therapeutic benefits, works closely with local and state officials, and deals with construction contractors that have experience with health care projects. If you are thinking of converting an existing wing, or creating a new one for a subacute care unit, give us a call today to see how we can help you.


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