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The Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) explains that the ICF medical abbreviation stands for “Intermediate Care Facility,” which is an in-patient healthcare facility that provides skilled nursing supervision and custodial care to residents who do not need long-term or continuous nursing care.  

ICFs are considered lower-level nursing care facilities, offering services ranging from ADL assistance, laundry services, housekeeping, home-cooked meals, transportation, and medication reminders. While residents may not need as much skilled nursing care as those in a nursing home, they still need some nursing and supportive care that a physician supervises. 

While the general ICF medical abbreviation refers to an intermediate care facility, different branches of ICFs cater to different needs and residents. Therefore, below we will discuss the additional ICF medical abbreviation terms.

The first ICF medical abbreviation branch is Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID). Formally known as Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Mental Retardation (ICF/MR), these facilities have been around since 1988. However, in 2010, the name was officially changed to Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities.

To be classified with an intellectual disability, people must have one of the following conditions:

A nurse is discussing what the ICF medical abbreviation stands for, so she can discuss intermediate care options with an elderly couple.
ICF medical abbreviation stands for “Intermediate Care Facility.”
  • A low intellectual functioning level (IQ) below 70-75
  • A diagnosed condition from childhood (age 18 years or younger)
  • Significant limitations in adaptive skill areas, such as:
    • Interpersonal social communication
    • Ability to relate to peers as friends
    • Social responsibility
    • Empathy
    • Self-esteem
    • Social problem-solving

ICF/IID facilities provide rehabilitative and healthcare services for those with intellectual disabilities. They offer 24-hour supervision in a protected residential setting, with licensed nurses who evaluate and integrate rehabilitative services in their planning process so that residents can function at their highest ability while receiving optimum care. 

Another ICF medical abbreviation branch is Intermediate Care Developmentally Disabled Habilitative (ICF/DDH), which assists people with developmental disabilities. ICF/DDH facilities are usually small facilities that house four to fifteen residents. While all ICF/DHH facilities provide around-the-clock care, they can vary in setting, being a part of a community, group, or residential home setting. 

To be admitted into an ICF/DHH facility, patients suffer from a chronic or severe physical or mental disability, which falls into the following criteria:

  • Cerebral palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • A mental illness that impairs intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior 
  • A developmental disability that manifested during childhood (usually before the age of 22)
  • Indefinite continuation of the disability
  • Substantial limitations to performing everyday life activities, such as:
    • Learning
    • Understanding and using appropriate language
    • Self-care
    • Self-direction
    • Independent living
    • Mobility

The purpose of an ICF/DDH facility is to provide 24-hour personal care, which includes developmental, rehabilitative, training, and supportive health services to developmentally disabled people in a less restrictive community environment. Due to the high level of skilled nursing care needed in ICF/DDH facilities, patients are cared for by licensed nurses and physicians. 

The final branch of the ICF medical abbreviation that we will discuss is Intermediate Care Developmentally Disabled Nursing (ICF/DDN). Like an ICF/DDH facility, they also serve a small number of residents, between four to fifteen, and provide 24-hour nursing care, which includes supervision, personal care, rehabilitative services, and training. 

ICD/DDNs differ from ICH/DDH facilities because they care for those who are medically fragile with developmental disabilities or those who demonstrate a significant developmental delay if left untreated, leading to a developmental disability. While those admitted into an ICF/DDN may have developmental disabilities, they do not need skilled nursing care. Therefore, the environment of an ICF/DDN facility is less restrictive than a skilled nursing facility but has on-site physicians and nurse practitioners to care for residents

Despite having different branches of intermediate care facilities, they all provide nursing and supportive care for people with mental or physical disabilities, declining health, or both. Therefore, ICFs are a popular healthcare alternative for seniors who may have some conditions impacting their ability to live independently. 

Intermediate Care Definition: Understanding the Health Benefits for Seniors in Intermediate Care Facilities

Now that we have a better understanding of the intermediate care definition, we will look at how intermediate care facilities benefit seniors’ health. 

Despite there not being as much academic research into the ICF medical abbreviation, some studies show the importance of intermediate care, providing a critical step in healthcare for elderly adults with mental or physical illnesses. 

One reason why intermediate care is a popular alternative among seniors is that it offers rehabilitative care. This impacts a senior’s recovery time in ICFs, leading to earlier discharges. 

Meanwhile, another research study highlights four distinctive characteristics of intermediate care:

A nurse explains the meaning behind the intermediate care definition, so the resident can understand the benefits of staying in an intermediate care facility.
Understanding the intermediate care definition benefits seniors who need healthcare services.
  • Transitions are when a patient is safely referred between care transitions from one setting to another or a different level of care
  • Components refer to intermediate care characteristics, including multidisciplinary and comprehensive tasks that require coordination, flexibility for adapting care, and person-centered care
  • Benefits are positive intermediate care outcomes, including the continuity of care, self-empowerment, cost-effectiveness, individualized and family-oriented care
  • Interchangeability refers to the use of intermediate care, including transitional care, which lacks a clear definition of intermediate care in readings.

These characteristics represent the care provided in intermediate care facilities, which ensures a high quality of care, continuum of care, recovery, independence, and confidence between the home, acute, and transactional care team that provides the intermediate care services. 

Intermediate care is often delivered by an interdisciplinary team who communicates via the elder care software system to ensure that all care documentation is shared effectively between caregivers. This allows for optimum care with transparent communication, optimizing coordination and services.

Contact us here to learn how our long-term care software perfectly suits intermediate care facilities. 

Intermediate Care Facility Definition and Its 4 Emerging Models

As mentioned earlier, there is limited academic research into intermediate care, making it challenging to find an official intermediate care facility definition. Even though intermediate care is not a new concept, it is an emerging healthcare approach offering an alternative to skilled nursing facility care for elderly patients. 

The ICF medical abbreviation that is commonly used conveys intermediate care as an “in-between” step between hospitalization and home. When trying to understand what is an intermediate care facility and the services they provide, four emerging intermediate care definition models explain how the services help older adults after they are discharged from a hospital. 

  1. Bed-based Services

Bed-based intermediate care services are provided in a variety of settings:

  • Community and acute hospitals
  • Residential care homes
  • Nursing homes
  • Stand-alone intermediate care facilities
  • Independent sector facilities
  • Local authority facilities

Additionally, there are two variations of bed services:

  • Step up-beds – These provide an alternative option to acute hospital admission, as seniors are seen from home for assessment and rehabilitation. 
  • Step-down beds – These beds are assigned after a senior has been transferred from an acute hospital but need to be monitored for further assessment and rehabilitation.

These allocated intermediate care beds have a time limit, usually up to six weeks, to ensure a smooth transition between residents and healthcare providers, giving them time to settle into the new intermediate facility environment or their private homes. 

  1. Community-based services

Community-based services in intermediate care provide clinical assessments and interventions to residents in different community settings, including:

A caregiver supports a senior at home while following the official intermediate care facility definition and responsibilities.
The official intermediate care facility definition means an “in-between” step between hospitalization and home.
  • Private residences
  • Community-commissioned beds in an acute hospital
  • Community hospitals
  • Stand-alone community-based beds in an intermediate care facility
  • Residential care homes
  • Care homes with skilled nursing care
  • Local authority facility 
  • Private-sector healthcare providers

Depending on the level of care and how much assistance is needed, community-based services will vary. For instance, seniors who need a higher level of care and 24-hour support will need to move into a community hospital so caregivers can provide the necessary support. 

While seniors who need a lower level of care can remain at home and have regular caregiver visits to support their needs. This provides an alternative care service to seniors who need low-level care and wish to stay in their own homes, leading to fewer hospital admissions. The services help seniors regain their skills, strength, and independence, making it a popular care option. 

  1. Crisis response services

As the name suggests, crisis response services provide urgent care and support to seniors in their private residences or care homes. The primary purpose of crisis response is to aid seniors within the community to avoid hospital admissions. 

  1. Reablement services

The primary purpose of reablement services is to help seniors who are frail or recovering from an injury or illness. The services focus on helping seniors in their homes so they can recover lost skills and confidence. This will enable them to continue living at home while performing everyday activities like washing themselves, cooking, and moving around independently. 

ICF Medical Abbreviation and the Future

The ICF medical abbreviation stands for Intermediate Care Facility, an in-patient healthcare facility that provides skilled nursing and custodial care to residents who do not need continuous nursing care. Already, intermediate care focuses on providing personalized, patient-centered care through different care models.

As we progress into the future, we will likely see intermediate care incorporating more modern technology, like eMAR software, to expand patient care through community-based services and remote monitoring. This, in turn, will increase home-based services and focus more on preventative care to reduce costly hospital and institutional care. 

For more on recent trends in long-term care, read our blog and subscribe to the LTC Heroes podcast

Cindy Wong