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Making sure you have enough help


You will likely go home from the hospital or skilled nursing center once you are able to:

  • Get into and out of a chair or bed without much help
  • Know how to walk around with your cane, crutches, or walker
  • Walk between your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen
  • Go up and down any stairs that you will need to use

However, you may still need help taking care of yourself at home. Most people need help with:

  • Moving in and out of beds, baths, or cars
  • Bathing, dressing, and grooming
  • Changing bed linens, washing and ironing laundry, and cleaning
  • Getting household supplies and running errands
  • Purchasing, preparing, and serving meals
  • Doing simple prescribed exercises
  • Changing wound dressings
  • Emotional support

You may have family members or friends around to help, but you should make sure you have enough help for a quick and safe recovery. Keep in mind, you will need this help for 2 to 3 weeks after surgery.

Family and friends must be able to do all of the tasks you need help with. If not, you can talk to the hospital social worker or discharge nurse about getting help in your home. Sometimes, they will arrange for someone to come to the home and determine what help you may need.

Types of homecare

Besides family members and friends, many different types of home care providers can come into your home to help. They can assist with movement and exercises, wound care, and daily living.

Home health care nurses can help manage:

  • Your surgical wound
  • Other medical problems
  • Any medicines that you may be taking

Physical and occupational therapists can:

  • Make sure your home is set up so that it will be easy and safe to move around
  • Make sure you can take care of yourself
  • Help with exercises when you first get home

You will need a referral from your doctor in order to have home health care nurses, physical therapists, and occupational therapists visit your home. Your insurance will often pay for these visits if you have a referral. However, you should still make sure it is covered beforehand.

Other types of assistance are available for tasks or issues that do not require the clinical expertise of nurses and therapists. Names of some of these professionals include:

  • Home Health Aide
  • Certified Nursing Assistant
  • Caregiver, Direct Support Person
  • Personal Care Attendant

It is important to check with your case manager at the hospital, and they can verify to see whether insurance can pay for some of these services.

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Review Date: 8/9/2018

Reviewed By: C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, San Francisco, CA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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