Post-operative care and support

Post-operative care and support

Statement 5.7

Patients and parents/carers should be provided with information about post-operative care before discharge, including wound and stoma care, and offered psychological support.

Why is it important?

Everyone reacts to surgery in their own way. Some people experience a range of emotions before and after an operation – these may include anxiety, fear, doubt, acceptance, relief, confidence, a sense of wellbeing and perhaps even some disappointment. It’s not uncommon for people with an operation scar or a stoma to feel depressed about their changed body image, especially if the surgery was an emergency and came as a shock. This can be a time of worry for family members as well.

Clear and accessible information can help people understand and respond more positively to the situation and manage their post-operative care. Ideally, this should be offered in a variety of formats: written, audio-visual and web-based and in language that the patient is able to understand.

Patients undergoing IBD surgery who require a stoma should receive specialist guidance pre-operatively. Careful focus on stoma preparation, siting and construction may reduce the incidence of common stoma problems following surgery, such as proctectomy. Following (stoma) surgery all patients should be given appropriate dietary advice or nutritional support as required.

Post-colectomy for IBD, all patients should be offered specialist information and advice about the various surgical options regarding reconstructive surgery.

Issues with body image and confidence can sometimes last long after an operation. People should be offered psychological support to help them adjust to the changes in their life. They should also be signposted to support from voluntary organisations, which can include talking to someone who has experienced a similar operation.

It felt daunting having to change the stoma bag myself, but the stoma nurses were an absolute lifeline even after I left the hospital – I could contact them whenever I felt unsure, which was so reassuring.

Amy, diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis