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What are Convalescent Homes?

Michael Pollick
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The term convalescent homes is often used interchangeably with nursing or rest homes, but there are some differences between these institutions. Convalescent homes are primarily designed to provide a home-like environment while patients recover from long term illnesses or medical procedures. Many residents anticipate a return to their own homes after recovery, although some will remain for the rest of their natural lives. Nursing or rest homes are more likely to house long-term residents who may or may not require the same level of medical attention.

Convalescent homes generally provide a combination of medical services and support staff. Post-surgical patients, especially the elderly, may be assigned to one by their healthcare provider for long or short term physical therapy and monitored recovery. Others suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer or advanced diabetes may be kept in such facilities to minimize transportation needs between treatments. Family members often prefer the constant supervision provided there when compared to maintaining care at the patient's own home.

Because of the additional medical services and level of supervision, convalescent homes may be more expensive than assisted-living apartments or long-term rest homes. Medicare and other insurance plans cover many of the expenses, but often these benefits are limited. Patients receive nutritious meals and other essential services, often in a very pleasant environment, but they can still feel like institutions, so many administrators encourage group activities and supervised outings. Families are also encouraged to visit patients regularly. Local religious and charitable organizations also make routine visits to these institutions to provide special services or entertainment.

Convalescent homes have waned in popularity over the years. It was not uncommon for pregnant women in the 1950s to spend time in special homes during and after their pregnancies. Children with special medical needs would also be housed in similar facilities until they could resume their normal lives. With advancements in medicine and home health treatments, however, the need to keep the chronically ill in institutions has decreased dramatically. Today's homes are generally reserved for elderly patients with long-term medical needs or those who need longer recovery times following surgery.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon160457 — On Mar 15, 2011

@anon101261: I think sometimes children would get sent to convalescent homes if their parents could not take care of them fully (say, if they were a single parent or did not have a job to support everyone). Also, children were sometimes sent because they had an 'unknown illness' (like depression) and they parent's did not know how to treat it.

p.s. I'm not saying one of these was a reason your mother went to a convalescent house, but these are some things i know about it.

By anon101261 — On Aug 02, 2010

My mother was sent to a convalescent home when she was 10 years old but she doesn't know why. That would have been 1972. Have convalescent homes always been for people who have suffered an illness or been recovering from surgery? can anyone help?

By StormyKnight — On Jul 25, 2010

@grumpyguppy: Many of the nursing homes and assisted living homes have animal therapy. Animals are brought in (with their trainers) to interact with the residents. It is very good therapy. Many of the elderly residents really enjoy playing with the animals.

By calabama71 — On Jul 25, 2010

@grumpyguppy: My grandmother is in an assisted living home and she loves it! They play bingo once a week. They also have sock hops where they make banana splits and sundaes.

Many of the local churches donated old clothes for them to wear at the sock hop. The ladies wore poodle skirts and it was a blast! They play oldies music and some of them even dance around in their wheelchairs.

By SnowyWinter — On Jul 25, 2010

@grumpyguppy: I work at an assisted living facility and family members often compliment us for the numerous activities that we provide.

Many of our residents have Alzheimer’s disease. We try to provide activities for them that will keep their minds active. One thing that we do is bead sorting. We provide egg cartons and hundreds of beads and they sort them out the way that they like and then keep them in the egg cartons.

We also have a gardening club. Outside, we have an area for gardening that is accessible to our residents that use walkers or wheelchairs. Many of the ladies like to plant flowers and the men seem to prefer vegetables. We have wicker furniture out there and lots of shade. They seem to love it.

By GrumpyGuppy — On Jul 25, 2010

What kind of activities are available for the people living in a convalescent home? My mother is 83 and is considering a convalescent home but she thinks she will be bored with nothing to do.

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to The Health Board, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide...
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