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 Family and Caregivers

The Goal - Getting your loved ones back to their previous level of activity, and being able to do the things they enjoy without pain.

The Strategy – Helping them to stay active, positive and healthy. 

The Plan – How involved is the caregiver or family member? Start by asking yourself, “How can I help?”

The help and support of family and friends is hugely important to the person having hip or knee replacement surgery. The operation is likely stressful to the patient, both physically and emotionally. You can make things much easier for them and help to speed up their recovery time!

It is often helpful to have someone (a family member or friend) attend the various appointments and clinic visits (both before and after surgery) with the patient to listen and take notes.

A person having hip or knee replacement surgery has limited body movement. This makes simple, everyday activities harder to do. If, for whatever reason, family or friends can’t provide this much-needed support, the next best thing is to arrange for temporary help.

For a list of resources available to you and the patient to help them get ready for surgery and manage their recovery at home, you can visit our Resources section.

Ask what kind of help and support you can provide each stage of the way - to get ready for surgery, during the hospital stay and for recovery at home.

You play an important part in setting up a physical and emotional support network for the patient! Your help and support can speed up their recovery.

Click on the tabs to learn more about how you can help and support the patient having hip or knee replacement surgery.

How involved is the caregiver or family?
Ask yourself, “How can I help?”
For more information, click on the following:

Preparing the Patient

  • Stay positive to reduce any anxiety and uncertainty the patient may be feeling.
About My Condition
  • Get to know the patient’s health condition, joint anatomy and surgery. Be ready and willing to discuss and listen to the patient about what they want and need.

Treatment Options

Hip Surgery

Knee Surgery

  • To find out more about programs and services that give emotional and practical support to people living with arthritis and those near them, visit

Preparing the Home

  • Set up the home by rearranging furniture and removing area rugs to ensure clear pathways to the kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom. Help with installing a railway on stairs if one doesn’t already exist

Preparing Your Home

  • Offer to prepare meals by cooking ahead and freezing. You can use Canada’s Food Guide to Healthy Eating to help you choose healthy foods. You can also arrange for meal delivery programs (e.g. Meals on Wheels, VON frozen foods and others).

Eating Healthy

Equipment Needs

  • Help to identify required and optional equipment needs for home and hospital. Pick up and set up the equipment at home, so the patient can get used to using it.

Equipment Needs

  • A therapist can teach you how to use equipment and aids for walking, dressing, toileting, bathing, and more.

Transportation & Personal Support

  • Offer to drive patients to their appointments. Bring a list of questions for each visit. Stay with the patient, listen and take notes, and discuss them with the patient when you get home.


Family Doctor - What to Ask

Specialist - FAQ’s

  • Remind the patient of any changes required to their routine in getting ready for surgery (e.g. they may need to stop taking certain medications a week or two prior to surgery).

Pre-Op Education

Pre-Admission Clinic

  • Go over with the patient their final “To Do” checklist for what to bring to the hospital. Confirm your own accommodation if you are from out of town and plan on staying and/or visiting for the patient’s stay in hospital.

Going to the Hospital

How involved is the caregiver or family?
Ask yourself, “How can I help?”
For more information, click on the following:


  • On the day of surgery, allow extra time to drive the patient to the hospital, and get to know the hospital and amenities.

The Day of Surgery

Personal Support

  • When visiting the patient in the hospital, please encourage them to follow the instructions of their healthcare team.

Day by Day Progress

Rehabilitation Support

  • If needed, help the patient with standing, sitting, walking, toileting and dressing activities.

Getting Mobile

  • Get to know the exercises and precautions for protecting the hip or knee joint after surgery. Encourage the patient to do their exercises.

Exercises and Precautions

Preparing the Home

  • Reassure the patient that all is being taken care of at home (e.g. taking care of pets, watering plants, picking up mail).

Preparing Your Home


  • Help pick up and setup any required equipment, if not already in place. Make sure the patient is comfortable with using their own walking aid (e.g. walker, crutches and/or cane) on their day of discharge.

Equipment Checklist


  • Be sure to arrive before 11 am on discharge day to drive the patient home from the hospital.

Going Home

  • Be prepared to support the patient in returning home. Know the proper way to help them get safely in/out of a car.

Getting in and out of a car

  • Upon discharge, pick up prescriptions, and any other equipment needs. Offer help to schedule their post-op appointments.
How involved is the caregiver or family?
Ask yourself, “How can I help?”
For more information, click on the following:

Personal Support

  • Plan on staying with the patient for at least the first two to three days after they return home. Your being there will make a big difference.

Recovering at Home

  • If you are unable to stay with them, or you need some extra help, you should arrange for personal care (e.g. help with dressing, bathing, and mobilization) and home support (e.g. light housekeeping, laundry, and/or meal preparation) services.

Community Resources

  • Provide ongoing care and support. Be positive, and reassure them often. If you are comfortable to do so, help with their injections (if they are required) and incision care. Make sure the patient is taking their pain medication.

Managing Pain

Caring for Your Incision

  • Some swelling around the incision is normal. Encourage the patient to wear loose fitting clothing. Learn how to spot and monitor any complications (e.g. infection, blood clot). If you want to ask about a specific health issue or to discuss symptoms, dial 8-1-1 (a 24-hour health telephone help line for non-emergency advice).

Avoiding Complications

Rehabilitation Support

  • Get to know the patient’s rehab program. Know their weight bearing status and the precautions they need to take to protect their joint.

Accelerating Your Recovery

  • Learn the safe way to do exercises and activities. Encourage the patient to do their exercises. Offer to watch, or do exercises with them.
  • If the patient is in pain after exercising, encourage them to pre-medicate before exercising.
  • Encourage the patient to be active while ensuring they don't over do it, remind them to rest and relax!
  • Encourage them to try a healthy lifestyle program (e.g. aqua fit, seniors swim, 50+ fitness classes, strength training or yoga). Find activities the YMCA offers in your area.


  • Patients don’t usually drive again for six to eight weeks after surgery. Offer to drive the patient to their post-op follow up appointments. Stay with them and take notes to review with them later at home. If it is a long drive, be sure to bring their walking aid and raised toilet seat in case they need to visit a rest room along the way.


Post-op Visit

Home Support

  • Help with housekeeping (laundry, cooking, cleaning) and personal care (help patient with hair washing, dressing and bathing). Pick up prescriptions, shopping and groceries. Make sure the patient is eating healthy meals, and keeping a good balance of rest and activity.

Resuming Daily Activities

On-going Support

  • You’ll know when the patient has reached their goal. Over the next few months, enjoy spending time with them and encourage them to stay active, positive and healthy.

Getting Back to Normal

  • Watch as they get back to their previous level of activity, and are able to do the things they enjoy without pain. Be proud of your accomplishments!