High-Intensity Therapy Leads to Better Outcomes for LTC Residents

A study conducted by a pair of trade groups that represents physical and occupational therapists concluded that nursing home residents have better outcomes when provided with higher intensity therapy services.

Skilled Nursing News reports that residents in long-term facilities had lower rates of 30-day hospital readmissions if they received higher intensity levels of therapy. This study was published by the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). High-intensity therapy is defined as 90 to 219 hours of services regardless of condition. Residents receiving low-intensity therapy had a 30 day readmission rate of 26.3% whereas the high-intensity group had a readmission rate of 15.4%. Additionally, residents who received high-intensity therapy had a functional status change score of 3.29 compared to 1.83 for those that received low-intensity therapy services.

The trade groups concluded that this “provides clear evidence that physical therapy and occupational therapy services improve patient outcomes across all PAC settings.” Furthermore, they stated these findings are reason enough for Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to monitor levels of therapy residents receive “as payment incentives change in order to help protect patient access to medically necessary skilled therapy, especially patients with high rehabilitation needs.”

This data was gathered prior to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) changing the payment model to Patient Driven Payment Model (PDPM). The new payment model changed payment incentives. Prior to PDPM, the revenue of skilled nursing facilities depended on the amount of therapy services rendered. In the new model, this was reversed causing layoffs and less therapy available for residents.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought on additional challenges for rendering therapy services. Ongoing vaccination efforts are helping nursing homes to slowly return to normalcy and group therapy is slowly resuming.

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