When you have orthopedic surgery, you want to feel at home with your new joint as quickly – and smoothly – as possible.
Improvements in anesthesia and surgical techniques have shortened recovery time for joint replacements. Patients typically leave the hospital within a day or two after surgery.
That means most of your recovery happens outside the hospital, usually at home.
Before surgery, we help you prepare for daily life after surgery to ensure your best recovery no matter how soon you leave the hospital.
A pre-op planning session reviews what to expect before, during and after surgery, and helps determine your home care needs. The pre-op planning team – led by surgical nurse and patient educator Linda Rowan, RN, BSN – includes a physical therapist, pharmacist and [if appropriate] a social worker who meet with you and your family members three to four weeks before your surgery date.
Together, you review medical details of your surgery – plus logistical details for your recovery after discharge.
Most patients go directly home from the hospital. Some transfer to a rehabilitation facility or skilled nursing facility to recuperate; Medicare coverage for this is very specific. In 2019, Medicare tightened the requirements for in-patient care after surgery in order to improve patient care and reduce healthcare costs. (Your length of hospital stay is based only on your medical need for hospital-level care as defined by Medicare guidelines.)
Planning before surgery for what you may need after surgery is an important part of your surgery care.
Pre-op planning also helps caregivers – often, a spouse with their own health needs – feel confident that they have a solid plan to care for their loved one at home while taking care of themselves, too.
Three steps lay the foundation for successful recovery at home:
Anticipate. Your pre-op planning team will review details you may not have thought about – stairs, loose rugs, bathroom access, high kitchen shelves, your favorite chair. A room-by-room checklist helps you prepare your home now for your recovery later.
Prepare. Line up your support network, including someone to stay with you for the first few days. Family members who plan to take time off work to help you may want to arrange FMLA leave with their employer ahead of time (the Family and Medical Leave Act).
Some patients choose to stay in a hotel with handicap-accessible rooms, or a respite care apartment in an assisted living facility, says Valerie Thomas, MSW, LICSW, Director of Social Services. “That can be a good option for someone who needs just a few days of one-level living as a transition to home.” Consider Home Care services for skilled nursing care or help with personal grooming and daily living activities. (Medicare covers Home Care when it’s medically needed.) You can arrange Home Care after surgery.
Practice. We help you learn the skills you’ll use after surgery. A physical therapist works with you on, walking, stairs, and car transfers plus exercises for your new joint. An occupational therapist teaches you how to shower and dress. “Northfield Hospital is unique in teaching you these skills beforehand, and then having you and your family practice after surgery so you’ll be confident doing it at home,” says physical therapist Heidi Auge, DPT. “Knowing what to expect reduces anxiety.”
Get your body in shape too, so you go into surgery strong. You may benefit from physical therapy “to get you in your best physical condition before surgery,” Auge says. “That speeds up – and maximizes – your recovery afterwards.”
NH+C resources for care at home
Home Care – Services range from skilled nursing care to help with personal grooming and daily living activities. Home Care does not provide 24-hour care. If your provider recommends Home Care, a social worker will meet with you in the hospital to arrange it. You don’t need to arrange Home Care before your surgery.
Community Paramedic -- An experienced paramedic with advanced health care training can help with pre-surgical screenings and post-discharge follow-up care in your home. During a home visit, the CP may help you make a health care assessment, review medicines, review any challenges you’re having, and help connect you with community services such as transportation or food assistance. They can provide health education to you and any of your caregivers.
Meals-On-Wheels – Volunteers deliver a hot noon meal prepared by Northfield Hospital nutrition staff. Meals are available seven days a week, 365 days a year (including holidays). Call 507-646-1022 to register.