Preparing Your Home for when You Return from the Hospital: A Checklist

Most hip patients are discharged home 2 to 3 days after your procedure. For example, if you have hip surgery on a Monday, you may be discharged on Wednesday or Thursday. Total knee patients usually stay until 3 days after their surgery. My advice: follow the Boy Scout rule, BE PREPARED!

It is important to fully prepare your house or wherever you are going to after your surgery BEFORE you leave for the hospital. Even if you need to go to a skilled nursing orthopedic facility or an inpatient Rehab unit, you should still follow this advice. If you have a strong, committed family support system to help you for at least 2 weeks, you will feel safe and comfortable going to your home. Patients who are older than 85-years-old, or those older patients who have bilateral joint replacements, may obtain clearance for an inpatient Rehab stay. More than 95% of patients will go home, or they will go to a skilled nursing facility for 10 to 14 days before they are cleared to go home.

Now let’s discuss what you need to do to get your home ready. Remember that prior to going home you will practice stair climbing several times. You will also have several sessions with the occupational therapist on several functional activities such as dressing, putting shoes on, safely using the shower, safely using the toilet, and proper sitting positions. When you leave the hospital you will be “home ready.”


  1. Is there a stair rail to use to get into your house? Are the steps in good condition? Is there a light on the stairs?
  2. If you have a two story house, are the stair railing secure and the carpet on the stairs slip –free? Do the lights work to illuminate the stairs?
  3. If you have any loose rugs, remove them.
  4. Any exposed electrical cords or any clutter that could cause you to stumble, remove them. Do you have a well –lit and clear path from your bed to the bathroom? Do you have night lights that work?
  5. Do you have a cell phone, phone charger, or portable phone near your bed? If you have a partner who regularly sleeps with you in the same bed, forewarn them that when you come home, you will need the bed for your solo command post. For hip patients, you will need a several thick pillows and probably a long “body pillow”. You will need to have a table or nightstand for your phone, books, magazines, urinal (for men) medications,etc. Move the nightstand so that is right next to your bed.
  6. Store frozen prepared food in your freezer before you leave for the hospital. Make sure you have staples, toilet paper, plenty of food ready to use when you come home.
  7. Make sure your home team is committed to help you when you come home. You must have someone in the house for the first week day and night.
  8. Pay any upcoming bills and make arrangement for pet care if needed.


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