Having a Coach Helps Recovery after Joint Replacement Surgery

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After Two Knee Replacement Surgeries Former Patient Coaches Her Husband to Recovery

The MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center (JRC) at Long Beach Memorial is a leader in Southern California for hip and knee replacements. The innovative rapid recovery program encourages patients to walk the same day of surgery, with an average hospital stay of two to three days. The Joint Replacement Center performs 450 procedures a year and is led by a dedicated team with excellent outcomes. On average 85 percent of patients are discharged from the hospital to their homes and more than 90 percent of patients are likely to refer the JRC at Long Beach Memorial to their friends and family.

A “Coach” to Help with Recovery

Patient and family centered care is at the core of the program in patients utilizing a “coach” to help with recovery, both in the hospital and the transition to home. “Coaches” are invited and encouraged to participate in all facets of the program with the patient – including pre-op class to discharge from the hospital. Staff encourage active participation of the “coaches” in patient care to educate, to encourage and to facilitate a smooth transition to home for both patient and coach.

Together, Linda and John Chapman have had four knee replacement surgeries at the JRC in the past two years. After having both knees replaced in 2011, Linda took on the role of John’s rehab coach when he needed knee replacement surgery in 2012.

“Joint replacement is a lot of work for the patient and the coach,” says Linda Chapman. “It takes a lot of encouragement and you have to be consistent.”

As an essential component of the joint replacement process, the rehab coach stays with the patient from the pre-operative stage, through their hospital stay and into their hospital discharge and recovery at home.

Education is Key

At the JRC, education is key to achieving successful rehabilitation outcomes. Patients and their coaches attend a pre-operative education class and a post-operative discharge class. So much of the care and maintenance to ensure successful outcomes occurs at home. Education empowers patients and their families to be the drivers of their success and gives them the tools they need to create that success for themselves.

“Attending the education class prior to surgery helps the coaches understand what to expect at the Joint Replacement Center, including the importance of immediately beginning therapy as soon as the day of surgery,” says Debi Fenton, Joint Care Coordinator, MemorialCare Joint Replacement Center, Long Beach Memorial. “The education doesn’t stop there, it continues the whole hospital stay. Coaches learn what the patient needs to do to promote recovery and they are aware of issues that may occur while recovery continues at home.”

As part of pre-operative education, patients and coaches are given a guidebook and taught things like how to manage swelling after surgery, how to recognize infection and blood clots, the best ways to help the patient complete daily tasks and specific directions for rehabilitation exercises.

“The pre-op class was great,” says Chapman. “They showed us what the joint was going to look like, what to expect throughout the whole process, how to clean sutures and how to complete the exercises once we got home. They showed me how to help him get up and down, the proper way for him to walk and the importance of fluids and good nutrition, which I learned is vital to a safe recovery.”

Group Therapy

While in the hospital, coaches observe and participate in group therapy sessions, assist with mobility and help the patient gain confidence before they are discharged from the hospital.

“Group therapy is like a hands-on training for the coaches,” says Chapman. “It helps build a sense of community. Coaches would help each other, and being in a group helped the patients not be so hard on themselves. When they start to see other patients doing well, they think ‘I can do it too’.”

“Sometimes, you just need somebody to help with the small tasks and encourage you,” says Chapman. “As a coach it’s the little things they need help remembering like reminding them not to sleep on their leg, and pushing them to complete their exercises - correctly.”