How Post-operative Rehabilitation and Convalescent Care Can Help You Recover

Chris Williams
August 11, 2023

Post-operative rehabilitation and convalescent care is a particular kind of support that you may need after leaving hospital.

If you’ve had surgery, or been in hospital for a serious illness, you may not immediately be able to go back to your usual routine. Even if you feel well, after having an anaesthetic, you should have someone with you for the first 24 hours. If you’re allowed to go home quickly after surgery, you’ll need someone with you. If you live alone or don’t have any local support, you may need support from a professional care worker.

Depending on your surgery or illness, you might need assistance for a couple of days, or a longer time.

This can range from support with transport and help for the first 24 hours at home, right up to personal care for the weeks following hospital discharge, as you get back to your normal routines. It might also be called intermediate care or reablement care.

If your hospital stay was planned, you may be able to arrange post-operative rehabilitation and convalescent care beforehand. If your stay was unplanned, or there were complications that mean you’ll need extra help when you return home, hospital staff will discuss discharge plans with you while you’re still admitted.

Why do I need post-operative rehabilitation and convalescent care?

People often choose a post-operative rehabilitation and convalescent care service for one of a few reasons:

· They’re usually healthy, but have a planned general anaesthetic or epidural and can’t be discharged alone from the hospital.

· They’ve had an injury or procedure that affects their mobility and they’ll need extra help at home.

· They’ve had a long or unplanned hospital admission and need support at home to manage after their hospital discharge.

Some people who need this support live alone or have no local support system. Others might have friends or family who can’t help – for example, if they are ill themselves, elderly or working.

After anaesthetic

Lots of people who access a post-operative rehabilitation and convalescent care service are generally fit and healthy people. They might be having elective or planned surgery, such as a day procedure.

After a general anaesthetic, NHS guidance states that you should have a responsible adult stay with you for at least 24 hours. Even if you usually live alone, you’ll need someone with you. Even if you feel well, the medication used in anaesthesia can affect your memory, reflexes and concentration for a while.

NHS hospital rules for discharge after day surgery are usually:

· Someone must collect you from the hospital.

· You must have someone supervise you for 24 hours after discharge.

· You must not take public transport or a taxi home alone.

· You must not drive for 48 hours after a general anaesthetic.

You will also be advised not to sign any legal documents, look after children by yourself, or drink any alcohol.

Many people looking for post-operative support are younger people living alone who have had elective or planned procedures, such as:

· Dental work under general anaesthesia

· A colonoscopy or other day surgery procedures under epidural or anaesthetic

· Egg freezing or other planned reproductive procedures

· Cancer treatment

· Cosmetic surgery

After injury or due to mobility difficulties

If you’ve had an injury or a procedure that affects your mobility, you may need support around the home.

You might be well enough to be discharged from hospital before you’re mobile enough to look after yourself. This might be for a short while, for example if you’ve had planned surgery to treat a minor sports injury, or for longer, if you’ve had a knee or hip replacement, or are recovering from a stroke.

If you live alone or your friends and family are unable to help throughout the day and night, you may need professional support from a carer.

You may need post-operative rehabilitation or convalescent care for mobility reasons if you’ve been in hospital for:

· A hip or knee replacement

· Surgery or other treatment for a sports injury

· Back and neck injuries or surgery

· A broken bone, sprain or dislocation

· An acquired brain injury or stroke that affects your mobility

You may also need support if you had pre-existing mobility difficulties.

After illness or unexpected hospital admissions

If your hospitalisation was unexpected, you may not have a support system in place for when you’re discharged. While you’re in hospital, staff will discuss plans for your discharge with you, and you’ll be able to consider what help you need. If you need support, both getting home and once you’re at home, you may wish to use a professional carer.

Depending on your illness or injury, your needs and abilities may have changed, and you might need support as you get used to being at home again. You may need support with pain management or medication, or you may be less mobile than you were before.

This might be because:

· You’ve had a stroke or an acquired brain injury.

· You’ve had a health issue that means you need to make lifestyle changes, such as a heart attack.

· You’ve had a long hospitalisation or been immobile for a long time.

What support can I get from a home care assistant after surgery?

The support you need after being discharged will depend on your health. Some people may simply need transport home and someone to stay with them for 24 hours after a general anaesthetic. Others might need more long-term home care including help with personal care, physiotherapy and pain management.

Leaving the hospital

After many procedures, or if you’ve developed mobility difficulties, you will not be allowed to drive yourself home, or travel alone in a taxi or on public transport. Whether you’ll be returning to your own home, or staying at a hotel or elsewhere, carers can escort you. They’ll ensure that your home is set up as you need it, and get you settled.

Night care

Having someone present for the first night at home can provide real peace of mind. If you need any emergency support, or medication during the night, your carer can help.

Food and drink

Your carer can assist with meal preparation, ensuring that you are eating healthy meals to help you recover. If you’ve been advised to follow a special diet, a care worker can help you. They’ll also remind you to stay hydrated, and offer feeding support if needed.

Personal care

After an operation or hospitalisation, you’re at risk for infection and future hospital admissions. Personal care, such as help with washing, delivered by a professional, ensures that any wounds and stitches will stay clean. This kind of support often helps people avoid future hospital stays, and can get you back to being independent. You might need this for a day or two after your hospital discharge, or for a longer time.

Personal care may also include help with getting dressed, toileting, and other areas that you might find difficult after discharge.

Medication and pain management

If you’ve had surgery, you’ll usually have some pain afterwards. You may have been discharged with a medication plan in place. Your doctor will have prepared this to keep your pain at a minimum, so it’s important to follow it. Your carer can remind you to take medication, or help administer it if necessary. They’ll also be able to advise if you need to seek further help. Pain management support can be either short or long term, depending on your needs.

Mobility assistance and physiotherapy

Lots of people leave hospital when they’re feeling well, but aren’t yet back to their previous level of mobility. This is especially common if you’ve had surgery for a sports injury, or a hip or knee replacement.

If you have mobility difficulties, whether they’re pre-existing or temporary after your discharge, your post-operative carer can help you. This might involve assisting you as you move around your home or supporting you to move in bed. Continuing to stay mobile is often crucial to your recovery, and can help avoid blood clots forming in your legs.

You may need support to do physiotherapy exercises, particularly if you’ve had knee or hip surgery. Your carer can help with this too.

Daily assistance

You may need some extra help around the home at first, especially if you aren’t as mobile as you were before your hospitalisation. Carers can support you with your household chores, such as cleaning, laundry and meal preparation. This will stop you overexerting yourself, and reduce the risk of falls and readmission to hospital.

Mental health support

You may be anxious about returning home. It can be worrying to think about how you’ll manage after you’ve been discharged. Having a post-operative or convalescent carer with you after your hospital discharge can really help your peace of mind.

You carer can make sure that you’re eating, sleeping and taking your medication, which will all help your mental health.

If you need to make lifestyle changes following your hospital discharge, your carer can support you with these. Whether you need to follow a new diet or are getting used to new mobility challenges, having someone with you as you adjust will be helpful.

Post-operative rehabilitation and convalescent care

Professional post-operative and convalescent care and support can be vital in helping people adjust to life after a hospital discharge, or cope after an elective or day procedure.

After many procedures and hospitalisations, you will be unable to leave the hospital alone, so a carer can escort you home and support you for the first 24 hours. If you need care for longer, professional post-operative carers can provide a range of services that can give you peace of mind, and keep you healthy to avoid the need for readmission.

Frequently Asked Questions
What is convalescent care?

Convalescent care is short-term care that you may need after hospital discharge, surgery, illness or injury. It’s intended to help you recover and be independent again. It’s sometimes also known as reablement care.

Can someone from Tiggo Care collect me from the hospital after a general anaesthetic?

Yes, someone from Tiggo Care can collect you from the hospital. Whether you’re staying at your home, a hotel, or somewhere else, our carers can escort you to your destination and support you while you get settled and begin your recovery.

Why is my consultant telling me that I can’t be alone for 24 hours after my surgery?

NHS guidelines say that people who have had general anaesthetic need to be supervised by a responsible adult for at least 24 hours after surgery. This is to ensure that you don’t have any complications, and also because the anaesthesia can affect your memory and concentration. You will also need to avoid driving or operating machinery for at least 48 hours, and you won’t be able to care for children by yourself.

What tasks can a home care assistant support me with following my operation?

A home care assistant can help you get home and keep an eye on you for the first night or longer if necessary. They can provide personal care such as support with washing and dressing, wound care, and help around the house with chores and meal preparation.

Let us be your helping hand

Get in touch with Tiggo Care today to see how we can help you or your loved one.

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