Most people hope to go directly home from the hospital after major joint-replacement surgery (shoulder, hip, knee, or ankle). You should talk about this issue with your doctors and nurses in the weeks before your joint replacement. They can advise you about whether going directly home is good for you.
If you are weak before surgery, you and your doctor may plan on you staying in a skilled nursing facility ahead of time.
Even if you and your doctor planned for you to go home after surgery, your recovery may be slower than expected. When you no longer need to be in the hospital, the hospital will discharge you so that you can go to a place that can give you the right care. As a result, you may need to be transferred to a skilled nursing facility.
Skilled nursing facilities provide care for people who are not yet able to care for themselves at home but can be discharged from the hospital after joint replacement. The goal is for you to return home and care for yourself.
It is important to plan where you would like to go before you have your surgery so you can go to a place that provides quality care and is located in a place that works best for you.
Take these steps also:
When it is time to leave the hospital, you may still not be ready to go home. You may need to spend time at a skilled nursing or rehabilitation facility between leaving the hospital and going home.
Before you can go home after surgery, you must be able to:
Other factors may also prevent you from going directly home from the hospital:
While a doctor will supervise your care, other trained health professionals will be helping you grow stronger:
It is always a good idea to check out different skilled nursing facilities that you would like to go to. Visit two or three facilities and choose more than one facility at which you would be comfortable.
Important factors in the facilities you choose will include where the facility is located, how well it is decorated and maintained, what the meals are like, along with many others.
Keep in mind that your most important goal is to get safely back in your home. The quality of care you will receive at this facility plays the biggest role in getting you home as quickly as possible.
Therefore, when looking into the facilities that are near you or those suggested to you by friends or the hospital, find out about the following:
Dejong G, Horn SD, Smout RJ, Tian W, Putman K, et al. Joint replacement rehabilitation outcomes on discharge from skilled nursing facilities and inpatient rehabilitation facilities. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 Aug;90(8):1284-96.
Updated by: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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