Difference Between Post-Acute Care and Subacute Care?

When a loved one is hospitalized, it can be a stressful experience for everyone involved. In more complex cases, even after the patient has achieved stabilization, determining next steps often adds confusion to the stress. For family caregivers, it’s important to understand the range of options available when patients need a higher level of care than can be provided at home. Take a look below some of the differences between acute care, subacute care, and post-acute care.

What is an acute care facility?


Acute care is immediate, high-level medical care for people suffering from serious injury, exacerbation of an existing illness, and other urgent medical conditions that require an intensive level of treatment and observation. Acute care facilities actively address life-threatening or limb-threatening conditions until the patient can be safely treated with a lower level of care. The length of stay in an acute care facility depends on the specific condition and the requirements of the patient, but stays are generally shorter in duration. A hospital is an example of an acute care facility.

What is subacute care?

Subacute care takes place after or instead of a stay in an acute care facility. Subacute care provides a specialized level of care to medically fragile patients, though often with a longer length of stay than acute care. Many patients with acute illness or injury require comprehensive care that includes frequent assessments and procedures to manage their condition. People with pulmonary disease, cardiac disease, cancer, and conditions requiring IV therapy or tube feedings may need subacute care after a hospital stay.  Subacute care can include dialysis, chemotherapy, ventilation care, complex wound care, and other inpatient medical and nursing services.

What is post-acute care?

While post-acute care also provides continued medical treatment after a hospital stay, it maintains an emphasis on recuperation, rehabilitation, and symptom management. Patients in recovery from cardiac or pulmonary disease, stroke or neurological disorders, or orthopedic surgery often require rehabilitative therapies to help bridge the gap between hospital and home. The goal of post acute rehabilitation is to maximize patient wellness and independence so they can get back to the business of living their best lives. Post-acute care services range from intensive short-term rehab to longer-term restorative care. Some patients will achieve full recovery, while others learn to manage the symptoms of a chronic illness.

Post-acute care at Bella Vista

At Bella Vista Health Center in Lemon Grove, our post-acute rehab team can help your loved one achieve their goals for recovery and regain their quality of life. In addition to wound care, the administration of medication, and assistance with the activities of daily living, our post-acute care services include physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and other rehabilitative therapies.

Post-acute care at our skilled nursing facility provides:

  • Stroke rehab

  • Pulmonary rehab

  • Cardiac rehab

  • Hip fracture/replacement rehab

  • Knee fracture/replacement rehab

  • Spinal cord injury rehab

  • Brain injury rehab

  • And more

At Bella Vista, patients receive a customized treatment plan created by an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals dedicated to their wellness, independence, and quality of life.

For more information on our rehabilitative programs and services, please give us a call at (619) 644-1000 or drop by and see us in Lemon Grove today.