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Support for Surgical Patients

By Dr Jocelyn Lowinger

It can take some time to fully recover following a surgical procedure. To help with recovery, people may need additional support from their family and friends, their medical team and other specialised support services.


The support that is needed can vary from person to person depending on the size and complexity of the procedure and factors such as your age, whether or not you have other health conditions, and availability of services in your local area.


A short guide to the types of support people may find helpful is outlined below.


Medical support

Medical support covers your medical needs after a procedure and can be provided by doctors, nurses and other health professionals such as a physiotherapist. Medical support can include strategies to prevent complications and promote healing such as:1

  • How to care for your surgical wound.2
  • How to help prevent blood clots, including whether you need to wear stockings or take blood thinners.4
  • Whether you need specialised equipment to stay mobile, or rehabilitation exercises to help you regain movement or strengthen muscles.
  • How to manage pain in the period after the procedure.4


Nutritional support

Good nutrition is important for successful surgery and recovery. Weight loss during and after hospitalisation can signal a problem with nutrition. Places to get help with nutrition include:5


Emotional support

People can sometimes struggle with their emotions after a surgical procedure and can feel depressed or anxious. It is important to take care of your emotional needs. Things you can try include:6,7,8

  • Talking about your feelings with supportive friends and family
  • Talking to your GP or a counsellor
  • Listening to calming music
  • Trying relaxation exercises
  • Understanding as much as you can about what is happening and how long it may take to feel better.


In-home support

Depending on your situation, you may be able to access in-home nursing support run through the hospital. Talk to the doctors, nurses or social worker in hospital to see if this is suitable for you, or if other community nursing or home help services are available.9


See myagedcare for other services such as meals delivery for which you may be eligible at home, particularly if you are likely to require ongoing assistance.



It is important to understand what forms of support you require. Find out what is available in your local area and do not be afraid to ask if there is something that you are not sure about.


Jocelyn is a doctor and professional health and medical writer with 20 years’ experience in the health industry. She has extensive experience in a range of approaches to improving the delivery of healthcare such as clinical governance, quality use of medicines, and developing high-quality health communications for consumers and health professionals.