Postoperative care is the care that you or a loved one receive after a surgical procedure. The type of postoperative care that’s required depends on what kind of surgery you’ve had, along with your health history.
In this article, we’ve explained in detail what postoperative care is, the types of postoperative care - including at home and in a hospital - and how to find and arrange postoperative care.
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Postoperative care is a form of care given after a surgical procedure. The exact type of postoperative care you receive depends on the type of surgery you’ve had, along with your overall health.
Types of postoperative care include pain management, wound care and day-to-day support at home. Postoperative care begins in the hospital and can then continue once you’ve been discharged and have returned home.
Before being discharged, your doctor should provide comprehensive instructions regarding what to expect and what you need to know.
It’s also important to ask questions, as it can give you peace of mind. Here are six questions you should ask your doctor before beginning your post-operative care:
Depending on your circumstances, postoperative care can be mainly carried out at home. This is the case for certain minor procedures that don’t require a hospital stay, also known as outpatient surgery (more on this later).
If you need to stay in the hospital for longer, the beginning of your recovery will take place in this setting before continuing at home.
In either of these situations, postoperative care services can fully support you or your loved one upon discharge and through the recovery process.
When leaving the hospital, it’s really important that you follow any instructions from the doctor. Take prescribed medications and keep track of any follow-up appointments. While it’s important not to overdo things, you also shouldn’t completely avoid physical activity (as long as you’ve been given the go-ahead to move around).
Some people receiving postoperative care at home won’t be able to move around for a while after surgery. If this is the case then you may need a caregiver to help tend to wounds, prepare food and look after your hygiene. For instance, your family or friends may care for you through your post-operative care.
Being a carer for a family member - whether that’s full-time or to care for them through post-operative care - can be challenging, so it’s important to look after yourself if you’re a carer, too.
Once your surgery is complete, you’ll be moved to a recovery room where you’ll likely spend a few hours while you wake up from anaesthesia. It’s perfectly natural to feel groggy and a little nauseous when you wake up.
While in your recovery room, nurses will continue to monitor your health and wellbeing, and once they’re happy with how everything is healing, you can begin your discharge process.
Outpatient surgery is also referred to as same-day surgery. Unless you need some additional support after your operation, you’ll be discharged on the same day as your procedure and won’t need to stay overnight.
Depending on your operation, before being discharged you should be able to breathe normally, drink fluids, and go to the toilet.
If you have inpatient surgery, you’ll need to stay in the hospital overnight to continue receiving postoperative care. You may need to stay for several days or longer. In certain cases, people who were originally supposed to receive outpatient surgery will start showing signs of complications and be admitted for ongoing care as a result.
Postoperative care continues after you’ve been transferred out of the initial recovery room. You’ll likely still be using specialist equipment at this point. This equipment may include a finger device to measure blood oxygen levels and breathing apparatus.
Hospital staff will continue to monitor your vital signs and may provide you with pain relief if needed. You may be asked to get up and move around - potentially with assistance - as this will help maintain your muscle strength.
Your doctor will decide when you’re ready to be discharged. If you know that you’ll need ongoing care at home, be sure to make preparations ahead of time.
Being in really good health before having surgery can make a huge difference to your recovery in the following days, weeks and months (though this can be tricky if you’re having a surgical procedure as a result of an ongoing illness or condition).
Before having an operation, you should be aware of what support needs to be in place when leaving the hospital. If possible, try and have these arrangements made in advance. These arrangements may include transport from the hospital and locating a home care service.
With that being said, it isn’t always possible to make prior arrangements. Sometimes, emergency home care needs to be arranged so your recovery can continue as soon as you arrive back home. Providers like Helping Hands can have a carer in your home within 24 hours. If you’re being discharged quicker than expected or your circumstances have changed, they’ll be able to support you within a matter of hours.
Several different care providers offer postoperative care at home. To discuss and arrange post-operative care for yourself or a loved one, be sure to locate one of these providers and enquire about the availability they have.
Some of these include:
Convalescent care is a form of temporary care that provides extra support if you’re recovering from an operation or illness. Convalescent care homes provide a range of treatments and support, depending on your needs.
Many convalescent care homes provide delicious meals, take care of daily tasks and will help out with your personal care where needed. Convalescent care homes can also offer physiotherapy and nursing care.
We’re partnered with numerous care homes that provide convalescent care. The image below shows how we display whether or not a care home offers convalescent care on our site:
Here are some of our ‘Outstanding’ rated convalescent care homes - as checked by the Care Quality Commission:
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