CMS has made avoiding re-hospitalizations a priority for Skilled Nursing Facilities. The following five conditions account for 78% of all 30-day SNF re-hospitalizations. Unfortunately, all of these have been deemed as potentially avoidable. A strong nursing home speech therapy department is trained to be on the lookout for complications related to all of these conditions.

Looking to avoiding re-hospitalizations? Below are the top 5 conditions to be aware:

1. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) – can be reduced by adherence to any fluid or dietary restrictions

2. Respiratory infections / Pneumonia – may be reduced by following appropriate positioning of residents with swallowing problems to avoid aspiration that could lead to pneumonia

3. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) – can result from dehydration or poor nutrition, which may be prevented with careful monitoring of patient fluid and nutrient intake.

4. Sepsis – same as above

5. Electrolyte imbalance – same as above

Speech-language pathologists who are specially trained & passionate about medical speech therapy thrive in treating these types of patients. The speech therapy department at a skilled nursing facility should be able to test a variety of compensatory strategies to determine the least restrictive diet that the resident will be compliant with. Also, performing a FEES test can be helpful in evaluating the patient’s ability to swallow liquids and solids. The speech therapist will position the resident for the FEES to perform the test in the resident’s natural environment.

Do you have any questions on the role of speech therapy in reducing re-hospitalizations, or how to get your speech therapy department functioning at a high level? Give us a call. We’d be glad to be a resource to you.

About the Author:

Originally from Port Jefferson, New York, Jennifer Baquet Maher, MA, CCC-SLP is the Regional Manager for Language Fundamentals in Long Island, NY. She holds a Master’s Degree from St. John’s University’s Communication Sciences and Disorders program. In her spare time, Jen enjoys cooking, traveling & family.