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Bedside-Care Tips for Post-Surgery Patients

Patients who have undergone a surgical procedure are usually advised to rest and recover in bed for a couple of days before they ease their way back to their normal routine. The recovery period usually depends on the nature of the illness and the type of surgery performed. People who have an underlying disease or other medical condition might need a longer time to recuperate.

If you are a caregiver or a nursing assistant, it is important to observe the following bedside care tips to ensure your patient's comfort and safety while on the road to recovery.

Keep things accessible
For a hassle-free bedside care, you should position your patient's bed at the center of the room with enough area to navigate on both sides. If one side of the bed is positioned against the wall, caring for your patient can be harder as you have little room for movement. Working and overreaching from one side of the bed can also put you at risk of back and shoulder injuries.

There should also be a bedside table or over bed table equipped with the patient's medicines, tissues, towels, water, and a basic grooming kit. The phone should also be accessible and within reach.

Promote emotional comfort
Put your patient at ease by addressing him or her with a smile. As you are practically a stranger to your patient, it is important to make your patient feel comfortable with your presence. This is especially important because you will be helping the patient attend to personal needs he used to do on his own. Take note that not every patient appreciates depending on others for his personal needs so encourage him to cooperate and give encouragements as much as possible.

Ensure physical comfort
Any form of physical discomfort can increase the patient's stress levels. In fact, research has shown that stress alters and delays wound healing process in patients. Since the patient may already be suffering from pain in the operative site, your goal should be to decrease other sources of stimuli that may further contribute to his discomfort.

To ensure physical comfort, keep the linen and pillowcase fresh and free from wrinkles. The room should have a controlled temperature, sufficient lighting, adequate ventilation, and free from sources of noise.

Hygiene and comfort go hand in hand. If the patient cannot bathe on his own, ask consent to perform a bed bath. Reassure the patient that a loved one can accompany and assist him during the procedure to make him more comfortable. Don't forget to provide the patient with the privacy he needs throughout the procedure. Dress the patient in light clothes for additional comfort and ease of movement.

Ensure physical safety
The patient's safety is another priority you need to ensure. Keep the side rails up all the time, most especially when you have to leave the patient. With the number of patients suffering from fall-related injuries growing each year, you shouldn't take any chances.

Aside from side rails, a hospital bed trapeze is also handy as the patient can hold onto it to hoist himself up in a sitting position independently. This is especially helpful in patients who have to be confined to bed for a long time.

Keep a bedpan or urinal available
If your patient no longer has an indwelling catheter, always make sure that a bedpan (for women) or a urinal (for men) is always available nearby. This is very important, most especially in patients who refuse or cannot initiate urination in their diapers.

If your patient can already walk with assistance, make sure that the toilet is equipped with assistive equipment for post-surgery patients such as a raised toilet seat and a grab bar. A raised toilet seat makes it easier for your patient to sit and stand back up. He can also hold onto the grab bar for support. Ensure that the bathroom floor is dry at all times.

Reposition the patient frequently
If your patient cannot move on his own, he is at risk of suffering from bedsores or pressure ulcers. Bedsores develop when prolonged pressure is applied to the skin and the tissues beneath it, cutting off blood and oxygen supply. This results in skin breakdown and tissue death that can further progress into an open wound in areas with prominent bones such as the scapula, sacrum, and ankles.

To prevent bedsore formation and to promote blood circulation, turn your patient every two hours on his back, his left side, and his ride side alternately.

Although caring for a post-surgery patient might require some physical and emotional strength on the part of the caregiver, guiding the patient through a full recovery can be a very rewarding experience.