Getting Help After Surgery
Getting help after surgery is absolutely essential. Getting the right help will impact on your comfort levels, your ability to sleep, to travel, to your independence and to your overall recovery.
How long you will need it for, and what sort of help you will need, will depend on factors like the type of surgery you've had, your age and the medication you are on.
But one thing is certain you will need some help after the operation.
Many of us like to be independent but there are times in our lives when that simply is possible. It's better to get a bit of help now then end up back in hospital following a totally unnecessary fall.
It is absolutely essential to get this organised before you go into hospital.
Getting Help After Surgery
What is Needed?
This list covers the main points you will need help after surgery with. It won't cover everybody's needs but will give you ideas to think about and prepare for.
- Medication - dealing with repeat prescriptions - particularly if your GP limits the amount of pain-relief prescribed.
- Injections - I needed to give myself an injection every day for over 3 weeks. Some people need help with this.
- Food preparation - you many not have much of an appetite and you may have stocked up with easy to prepare food but the standing up, fetching and carrying and cleaning up afterwards are tough jobs for someone just out of surgery and on strong pain medication.
- Cleaning - you won't be able to keep your living space clean. No question about that one.
- Washing - you'll probably manage most of this yourself but it'll be a while till you can reach your feet again.
- Shopping - yes you can order in from the big supermarkets who will deliver to your kitchen but you'll always need bits and pieces more.
- Moving anything bulky or heavy - don't even attempt this yourself
- Company - always a good thing when you're feeling low or vulnerable
- Looking After Dependents - if you are responsible for looking after other people, children or elderly relatives, you will need someone to take on most of that role whilst you recover
- Looking After Your Pets - you won't be able to bend down to feed your dog or cat and you won't be able to take the dog out for a walk. So who will?
Where Can I Get Help After Surgery?
- Family and Friends. If you live with other people the chances are you will get good support. However this isn't always the case - the person may need to go to work or may be to frail to offer much support. There are also a few self-centered types who will be more concerned about what you're not doing for them then how they can help you.
If you think your partner, spouse or friend that lives with you can offer all the help after surgery that you'll need then you can tick this item off your check list. But before you do take a minute to consider the effect on them. Are they going to feel burdened, exhausted or get a bit resentful? If so try and recruit a few other friends or other service providers to visit and share the workload.
- Help After Surgery From the Council - What you will be offered and how much you will be charged will depend on where you live and how the council decides to categorise you.
In 2005 I broke my leg very badly and got free council provided care at home twice a day. After my hip surgery I was told that same care would be means tested and I might have to pay £13.25 per hour as I wasn't classified as undergoing rehabilitation. I have no idea what they thought I was doing if not rehabilitating. I could have challenged the ruling but decided not to 1)because I was just too tired after the operation, 2) because I simply didn't want to have to deal with all the paperwork involved in means testing, 3) because the service I'd received in 2005 had been dreadful and 4) because I knew, if I needed to, I could get a cheaper service elsewhere. And if things were bad then (2009) they'll be a lot worse now as local councils try to slash their " help after surgery " services.
However not all councils are the same and yours might be a lot better than mine.
One question you must ask is how much say you will have over the type of work the helper will do. I was told that I'd have none. The council would decide when and for how long she'd do the shopping, prepare the food, help with washing etc and that she (and they normally are women) wouldn't do any cleaning. No cleaning! So I'd have to find someone else to help with that as well. It all sounded way too complicated. I'd be paying £13.25 for a service I had no control over and I'd have to find someone myself to do the cleaning - I don't think so.
- Charities - some charitable organisations offer a home from hospital service and you would need to contact your voluntary services organisation or the council to find out if there is one operating in your area. Again be sure that what they offer is what you want not what they think you should want.
- Private Carers - you can hire a private care assistant through an agency. Fees range from £7.50 - £16 per hour plus agency fees. The price depends on the qualifications of the carer and the level of care you need. One good point though is you will be able to state what you want help with.
It is possible to hire a private carer and they advertise online on sites like Gumtree and Craig's List. But be warned. I would never do this. If you decide to then you MUST check their CRB clearance and references. Think of it like this - if you were a thief what better way to gain access to someone's house than through an advertisement like this. You'd know the person was alone, vulnerable and had at least enough money to pay for private care. I've really only included this bit in here to put you off doing it.
The alternative, and a much, much safer one, is word of mouth. Ask around people you know and you'll soon find someone who knows someone who had a great private carer they can recommend.
- Rebiliation Centre - The final choice is to go to a private clinic which provides focused help after surgery for hip replacement patients. You can spend a few days or a few weeks there getting strong enough to return home and cope independently. The clinic should look after all your needs and provide you with a comprehensive physiotherapy programme. The down side, of course, is the cost.
Getting Help After Surgery - My Story
One of the most enjoyable parts of my recovery was having visits from family and friends. Before I went into hospital I called around everyone I knew within a reasonable distance and asked if they'd help out. All agreed readily.
As I live on my own on the 2nd story of a terraced house I knew that letting people in and out would be difficult. I wasn't going to want to negotiate the stairs and I couldn't really have so many sets of keys cut. So I got a long piece of string and tied it to a small bag and put the keys into that. As soon as the bell rang I'd be lowering the keys down to my visitor. Although I'm sure the delivery people (post, groceries etc) would also have been willing I tried to make sure there was someone around to let them in.
In any week I might have 5 different people visiting - it was great. Each one would cook a meal for us both and an extra portion for me to freeze. Later as I got stronger I really enjoyed returning the favour and cooking for my visitors. My progress could be marked as the meals I provided moved on from mushrooms and beans on toast to a full on three course meal.
When I finally felt fit enough we all had a party to celebrate and for me to thank them
Preparing for Recovery
The Day of Surgery
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