Published on June 11, 2012

In-home care after double knee surgery

Skilled nursing, physical and occupational therapy kept Shirley Duckett going.

When Shirley had both knee joints surgically replaced in February 2012, she knew she would need a lot of help while she recovered at home.

Shirley DuckettThat’s where Mercy Home Health stepped in with skilled nursing, physical and occupational therapy, and a plan to put Duckett back in action.

Several skilled Home Health experts visited the 68-year-old patient. A nurse monitored post-surgery blood clotting activity with an in-home test called PT/INR, using portable monitoring equipment. The results could then be conveniently sent from Duckett’s home to her physician for review. In addition, Duckett saw an occupational therapist, had weekly visits from a registered nurse and had up to three weekly sessions with a physical therapist until she was ready for outpatient therapy.

When asked to describe the benefit of working one-on-one with a physical therapist, the patient doesn’t miss a beat, “She made me feel like queen for a day,” Duckett says.

Highly Specialized Care

Those regal feelings grew from the personalized attention and care Duckett received. “I had a lot of questions and my therapist answered every last one. I always knew what was going on and where I was with my recovery,” Duckett says.

Occasional bouts of frustration or the “blues” are not uncommon following joint replacement surgery, says Deborah Ludwig, PT, manager of Therapy Services for Mercy Home Health. “Recovery can be challenging. So part of our job is explaining that it’s okay to depend on others until strength and range of motion returns.”

“The sessions were so encouraging,” Duckett adds. “It helped to have someone to talk to—so I could focus on the stretches and exercises and not on what I couldn’t do yet.”

Ensuring Home Safety

“One of the most important things we do is help patients move safely around their home,” Ludwig stresses. “This includes daily activities, like getting on and off the toilet, in and out of the shower and dressed.

These accomplishments help the patient regain independence.” Mercy Home Health nurses and therapists also help patients control any post-surgical pain and swelling with medications and ice, as well as exercise and stretches.

In addition, the Home Health team is always in contact with the patient’s physician, who reviews a personalized care plan and a weekly assessment. This often means conversations about medications.

“Medications can have different effects on different people,” Ludwig says. “So the Home Health nurse or physical therapist will keep on top of how well medications are working, as well as any side effects they may cause. We can then speak directly with the patient’s doctor and find an alternative medication when needed.”

After just one month at home, Duckett reached the milestone that the Mercy Home Health therapy team aims for; she was strong enough to visit an outpatient rehabilitation care center, which she returns to each week. She’s feeling great and continuing to progress. “My physical therapist really made me work, but I appreciated it,” Duckett recalls. “I knew it was the only way I would get back to where I wanted to be and to start doing the things I wanted to do.”