La Vie Care

Sub-acute care – Where Recovery Begins

When struck by a serious illness or experiencing an injury, the first port of call is usually a hospital. However, once the patient is stable and out of immediate danger, the long journey to recovery gets underway, and sub-acute care is an important step to aid healing and provide necessary skills for improved self-care to prevent further hospital stays.

What is sub-acute care?

In short, sub-acute care is one step down from acute care you would receive in a hospital setting. It’s more intensive than the level of care provided by assisted-living facilities and home-care medical providers, but less intensive than the level of care provided in a hospital setting in the immediate aftermath of a health crisis. It can last a couple of days or up to three months – however long the patient needs for maximum recovery before returning home.    

Sub-acute care is a holistic approach to care that can benefit anyone who’s already been through acute treatment for serious medical conditions, like diabetes, cardiac problems, or COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), but is still in need of further therapy and assistance to fully recover. Sub-acute treatment includes therapy sessions and meetings between the family, patient and care team to make sure everyone is still on the same page and working towards the same goal.

Sub-acute care usually takes place at an inpatient setting, like the Lynnmed Clinic, where a care team including doctors, nurses, and specialists will be looking after your health – providing wound care, IV treatments, or rehabilitation – whatever you need to recover fully.

What is the goal of sub-acute care?

Sub-acute care is usually provided after hospitalisation to help you recover and prepare you for life after treatment. In cases where the illness or injury permanently affects your life, sub-acute treatment will help you adjust to and manage any new or changing health conditions, making it easier to adapt to your new normal. The ultimate goal of sub-acute care is returning you to your old life, able to fulfil the activities of daily living with minimal or no assistance.

When to consider sub-acute care

After an injury:  Any form of injury can benefit from sub-acute care. Broken bones, soft-tissue injuries and lower back or leg injuries can hamper mobility, making it hard to perform the basic activities of daily living such as preparing a meal, taking a bath or getting dressed. In the case of severe accidents, specialized wound care to aid in recovery and additional rehabilitation might be necessary to help you return to your old life. 

After an illness: After a severe illness, like a heart attack or diabetes, sub-acute care is an important step before returning home. The inactivity that goes along with a long-term hospital stay can affect your overall fitness and mobility. Sub-acute care will ensure access to all the specialists you need while your care team can provide any extra cardio and respiratory care, rehabilitation or continued IV treatments.

After surgery: Many surgeries, such as joint or hip replacements, need intensive physical therapy to ensure the best results. A sub-acute care setting provides all the physical and occupational therapy specialists you need, along with specialized wound care, pain management, and a care team to coordinate your care and get you back on your feet as soon as possible.


Transitioning back to your normal life after recovering from a serious injury or illness can be quite a challenge, especially if the new normal is different from life before. Sub-acute care and rehabilitation can provide the necessary skills and support to make that process just a little bit easier.