When you have undergone a significant operation such as a hip or knee replacement it is important to give due thought and consideration to how you will approach the recovery period. The approach you take can have a real difference in terms of how quickly you heal and how successful your overall rehabilitation is.
It is widely accepted that the best place for recovery is within the comfort of your own home, with the support and encouragement of medical and care professionals and a supportive network of friends and family wherever possible.
Although not all patients are suitable, an enhanced recovery programme (ERP) has become the optimal care pathway for patients undergoing joint replacement surgery. This evidence-based approach aims to ensure that patients are fit and well enough to be discharged as soon as possible after having their operation as research has shown that this means a shorter recovery time. Mr Simon Bridle performs hip and knee replacements at the Fortius Joint Replacement Clinic at the Bupa Cromwell Hospital, where the approach to patient care is based on the principles of enhanced recovery.
Safe at home – with an interlocking network of support
In a recent report entitled ‘Getting it right first time’, the British Orthopaedic Association stresses that the best approach to effective patient rehabilitation appears to be where the patient and the medical, care and health professionals work collaboratively together: ‘the anecdotal information gathered at the many meetings held across the country suggested strongly that better outcomes appear linked to more successful working relationships’. So once the patient is back in their own home, it is important to ensure that all the care providers are clear about the chosen path to rehabilitation, as this will mean everyone is aligned in their approach.
The research behind these findings is extensive and during the study period, authors of the report claim to have ‘travelled 16,935 miles and met 1634 surgeons and 409 managers’.
Preparing your home for enhanced recovery programme
Recovering at home may require a few changes to ensure that your home is a suitable environment to aid in your rehabilitation. The Fortius team at the BUPA Cromwell will advise you about this at your pre-operative visit. Things the team will consider and advise about include:
- Physiotherapy / recommended exercise – do you have an area that is large enough (and safe enough; for example, no trip hazards, etc) to undertake the exercises required to build your muscles back up to strength?
- Caring for the wound / incision – do you know what the warning signs are that you should look out for when caring for a healing wound? Troublesome signs can include pain, redness, swelling, an unusual smell. It’s important to know when to reach out to medical professionals if you suspect the wound is not healing as well as it should be.
- Adapting your home – it may be necessary to make small, medium or large modifications to your home to aid in your recovery. Depending on how long the expected recovery time is and how restricted you are in terms of mobility, making a few changes can make the world of difference to how independent you can be in the days, weeks and months after your operation.