Planning Your Surgery Recovery with Home Care

Published March 21, 2016

Steve, a 52-year old certified public accountant, inherited his father’s good looks, his sense of humor, and his arthritis of the hip.  Like his dad, by the time Steve reached middle age, his health began to decline because he couldn’t exercise any longer.  He needed a total hip replacement.  His surgeon told Steve he’d spend 2-3 days in the hospital, and then a few days in a rehab facility, or he could get a visiting nurse to help him at home.

For Steve, visiting nursing was clearly the best option. He’s relatively young and has no major health problems. His wife works part-time and can easily take time off from work to help take care of him at home after surgery.

On the same day of his surgery, a care coordinator at the hospital arrived at the hospital room, introduced herself, and informed Steve that she had already done most of the groundwork to prepare for discharge. She knew Steve’s insurance covered visiting nursing and in-home physical therapy. The care coordinator worked with Steve to assess his needs and identify the best agency to care for him after leaving the hospital. Steve is a numbers guy, so was happy to know the care coordinator selected the best home care agency for Steve using real-time quality data.  For the first time in several weeks Steve was able to relax knowing that his path home from the hospital was in place.

When Steve was ready to go home on post-op day 2 with his new hip, the care coordinator had already arranged a visiting nurse to come the next day, and had set up a physical therapist to come the day after.  She had already ordered crutches and had arranged for a commode to be delivered to the house.

Steve felt that the best thing about being able to go to his own home, instead of a rehab, was that he got to sleep in his own bed, with his own pillow and sheets.  It may sound trivial, but he slept so much better at home without being awakened in the middle of the night by unfamiliar noises. He also much preferred his wife’s cooking to hospital food!

The visiting nurse called the morning after discharge and arranged to visit the house the same day. She examined Steve, looked at the surgical site, and looked around at the house to ensure that there were no “fall hazards.” She would visit on two more occasions to provide patient education and coaching to help Steve recover as quickly as possible.

A physical therapist also came to the house three times a week to monitor Steve’s progress and to show him the exercises he needed to do. After that, she discharged him from home care and recommended an excellent physical therapist to continue outpatient rehab.

The new hip is holding up very well and Steve is thrilled with his experience.  He appreciated being an active participant in the planning of his own care. He says he knows more about the care of the post-operative hip replacement than perhaps he ever wanted to know, but he is grateful for the knowledge.

Steve’s story is a fictional composite of several real hip replacement surgery patients.