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Discharge planning: Make plans for leaving the hospital after knee replacement surgery

  • Making plans for when you leave the hospital is a very important part of your total knee replacement recovery. You can expect to be discharged from the hospital one to three days after surgery, depending on your recovery. Your health care team will work with you and your family to help develop your discharge plan. By using this plan, you and your family can make most discharge arrangements before your surgery.

    A discharge plan is one of the following: home, home with home care or short-term rehab facility.


    You can return to your home if you can do the following at the time of discharge:

    • You can get in and out of bed and a chair with little help.
    • You can walk with your walker, crutches or cane.
    • You can walk the distance from your bedroom to your bathroom and kitchen.
    • You can go up and down stairs safely, if needed.

    You also need to have help from either family or friends on a regular basis until you regain your independence and self-confidence in walking and in daily living activities.

    Home with home care

    Some patients can return home at discharge. Your family and friends will need to provide the majority of your care after you leave the hospital. Home health providers are available to make home visits but are not responsible for caring for your day-to-day needs.

    The home health providers can be physical or occupational therapists, home health aides or nurses. You can schedule a time for them to come into your home to help you with special care such as walking, strengthening exercises, safety and monitoring your medical condition.

    While you're in the hospital, a social worker will talk to you to see if you qualify for visits from home health providers.

    Short-term rehab facility

    Some patients need more help and services than what can be reasonably provided at home. Such services can include daily skilled nursing care, additional rehabilitative therapy or both.

    In a short-term rehab facility, you can continue your rehabilitation program and have your medical needs monitored until you can safely return home. Therapy sessions focus on building strength, endurance and self-care skills. You will be cared for by a team of health care professionals who will work with you and your family so you can return home as soon as possible.

    Before your knee replacement surgery, your health care team can help you identify a facility with the extended care services you may need after your hospital stay.

    To prepare for your stay at a short-term rehab facility, there are a few things you can do before your surgery. Choose more than one short-term rehab facility where you would be comfortable, that have the rehab services you require after a total joint replacement and are approved by your insurance company. If possible, you may visit or call each of these facilities before your surgery.

  • Did you know?

    Your health care team will determine whether you qualify for homebound status. Homebound status means you should stay home because:

    • it takes a huge effort to leave
    • you are physically exhausted when you return

    You will be considered homebound status until home health providers determine it is safe to increase your activity level.