The Caregiver’s Role in Hip and Knee Surgery

The Caregiver’s Role in Hip and Knee Surgery

There’s a lot to think about when you’re the designated caregiver to someone who needs hip or knee replacement surgery.

As an advocate, it’s also your responsibility to speak up for the person in your care — let health care professionals know about any concerns or questions.

If you’re unfamiliar with the surgery and recovery period, learning about it ahead of time helps you to be well prepared and gives you an idea of what to expect. Take a look at our blog post to learn the basics behind hip and knee replacement surgery.

Going into surgery can be scary for a lot of people. There’s a lot of new information, worries about pain, and it can be a lot to manage. Your role as a caregiver is to support the person in your care by helping them get through the surgery process every step of the way.

To help that process go a little smoother, here are some tips to help you prepare as a caregiver before and after the person in your care undergoes hip or knee replacement surgery:

Be an Advocate

By attending doctor’s appointments and pre-surgery consultations with the person in your care, you can provide support and assistance. Your role is to make note of important information, and ask questions for clarification to ensure you and the person getting surgery understand what’s going to happen and what they need to do to prepare.

As an advocate, it’s also your responsibility to speak up for the person in your care — let health care professionals know about any concerns or questions.

Help with Hospital Necessities

The person in your care will need a hospital bag packed to ensure that their hospital stay is comfortable. We have a comprehensive list to get you started on the essentials. You can help by collecting all of the items they need and by assisting them with following the instructions the hospital provided.

Set up a Safe Home

Whether the person in your care is returning to their own home, or they are staying with you, it’s important to set up a safe and accessible area for them to recover in. Think about where they are going to spend their time, especially the first few days home. Consider what they may need access to during that time. You’ll want to have everything easily accessible, clear of obstruction, and modified to fit their care needs.

If possible, you may want to rearrange furniture for the person receiving care so that they have a recovery space set up on the main floor of the home. Easy access to a bathroom or temporary commode is also helpful.

For more tips, read our blog post for advice on removing safety hazards in the home.

Preparing for Surgery

In preparation for hip or knee surgery you’ll be provided with a detailed list of instructions from your surgeon’s office. This list will include instructions on bathing and personal hygiene, as well as food and drink restrictions before surgery. It’s important that the person undergoing surgery follows these instructions exactly as stated.

This is where you can help! By going over the instructions together you can ensure that everything is understood and that the person undergoing surgery has any supplies they may need in advance (for example, a specific soap may have been recommended).

Day of Surgery

The person undergoing the surgery will require you to drive them to and from the hospital, so be sure to make arrangements for transportation ahead of time. It’s also a good idea to look into how to get to the hospital and to find out where parking is available and how you pay for it – do they only accept cash?

Ask the surgeon how long the surgery is expected to take, and how soon after surgery will you be able to see the person in your care. You should also look into visiting hours and other hospital policies that may affect your hospital visits.

Refer to the detailed instructions provided by the surgeon’s office, and double check that all instructions were followed before heading to the hospital.

Pain Management and Medication Distribution

After the surgery it’s important to listen to the person in your care to assess their level of pain. You’ll need to understand and follow the dosage instructions provided by the doctor. If you have concerns about the dosage, or the person you are caring for is in pain, make sure that the doctor is informed immediately.

Nutritious Meals

Proper nutrition and hydration can help the person in your care make a speedy recovery. If you’re able to, try to do some meal planning in advance by stocking the freezer with some healthy pre-made meals. If you don’t have time, try reaching out to family and friends to see if anyone is willing to help out with providing healthy meals or snacks. A list of local restaurants is also helpful to have on hand for those days when you just don’t have time or energy to cook.

Emotional Support and Encouragement

Most people will be nervous going in for surgery. As their caregiver you can offer them reassurance, and let them know you will be there to help them during their recovery period.

During the recovery period, the person in your care may need encouragement to keep going with their prescribed physiotherapy exercises, or will need to be cheered up if they are having a rough time.

Being a caregiver to someone undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery can be daunting. Being well-informed and preparing yourself and the person in your care ahead of the surgery day will hopefully help put you both at ease and set you up for a smooth recovery process. Even if there are setbacks, being prepared gives you the resources to be ready for anything.

If you need additional support taking care of someone recovering from hip or knee surgery, our nurses can help by providing Personal Care or Help at Home.




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