Don’t feel bad if you’ve never heard the term Swing Bed – you’re not alone! Swing Bed programs are one of the best benefits at rural community hospitals, which makes recovering close to family and friends easy! The information below will help you determine if Swing Bed care would be a good fit for your loved one.

What is a Swing Bed?

Medicare permits certain small, rural hospitals to use Swing Beds as needed, either for acute care or skilled care, hence the term “Swing Bed,” as physicians may “swing” patients from one level of care to another while staying in the same facility. Be aware that Swing Bed programs differ from one facility to another.

If your loved one needs time to recover from a surgery, illness or injury, a Swing Bed program would allow them to recover in a hospital setting versus a nursing home. In the hospital, they would have easy access to nursing care and therapies. The goal of a Swing Bed program is to assist your loved one in becoming as independent as possible before discharge.

When is a Swing Bed appropriate?

If your loved one needs any of the following care, Swing Bed would be appropriate:

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapies to aid in a safe return home or to other living arrangements after a short medical or surgical stay
  • Specialized wound care
  • IV therapy
  • Orthopedic rehabilitation post any surgery
  • Stroke rehabilitation

What types of services do Swing Bed programs offer?

The goal with a Swing Bed program is to help you achieve your maximum level of function and return home. Because Swing Bed programs are located within hospitals, they’re often able to offer specialized service, such as:

  • Specialized wound care
  • IV therapy
  • 24-hour registered nurses on staff
  • High nurse-to-patient ratio
  • In-house pharmacies and registered dieticians
  • Rehab therapy services located onsite
  • 24-hour emergency department onsite
  • Discharge planning/social services

Who pays for Swing Bed?

Medicare Part A will generally pay for a Swing Bed program if the patient meets the following Medicare criteria:

  • Your Swing Bed care must be related to an acute hospital stay.
  • You must need skilled nursing or skilled rehabilitative services on a daily basis. They must be complex enough to be performed by or under the supervision of professional or technical personnel.
  • You must have had a three-night qualifying stay in an acute care setting in the past 30 days.

Many commercial insurances also offer a Swing Bed benefit, which the hospital would need to verified prior to an admission to Swing Bed. Patients may also pay privately. They would need to contact their local Swing Bed program on price.

How long can my parent stay in a Swing Bed program?

Generally, you can stay in a Swing Bed program as long as you are making measurable progress as determined by rehabilitation services, nursing and the physician. You could be in the program for as little as three days or up to 100 days. After you have reached your goals, Medicare will no longer fund your stay in a Swing Bed program. It is very important to check with the facility of your choice to inquire about how their program is run.

If the hospital where my parent recently stayed doesn’t have Swing Bed, are they out of luck?

No! Ask your parent’s discharge planner, case manager or social worker to help them find a local hospital that offers Swing Bed programs in the area. When it comes to your loved one’s health, be proactive and don’t be afraid to ask for them!

Source: Nancy Johnson, Edgerton Hospital