For Family and Friends

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It is really important for people having surgery to have friends and family members to offer support and assistance. 

Accompany the patient to the appointments

Having surgery can be stressful and medications can impair memory and clear thinking.  Accompany the patient to the appointments with the surgeon and at the pre-admission clinic. Listen carefully, ask questions, and write information down, so you and the patient can review later.

Bring the patient home safely

It is not safe for surgical patients to go home alone as surgery causes stress on the body and anesthetic drugs can stay in the body for up to 24 hours. Arrange to drive or accompany the patient home in a taxi or on a bus.

Get enough sleep

Make sure both you and the patient get a good night's sleep and for the patient to rest several times each day. Help by coordinating visitors and encouraging nap time. Check with the nurse for the hospital visiting hours.

Call for help in an emergency

If the surgical patient:

  • Faints or won’t wake up
  • Has sudden severe pain that gets worse even with pain medication
  • Feels cold but is sweating
  • Starts shaking

Call 911 for an ambulance and do not allow the patient to eat or drink anything.

If the surgical patient:

  • Has blood or fluid soaking through their bandages*
  • Gets a fever
  • Or if you have any other concerns

Call the surgeon, call 811 to get advice from a nurse, or drive the patient to the emergency department. Patients should not drive themselves.

*If blood or fluid is soaking through the bandages, fold up a clean towel and place it on top of the bandage. Do not take off the bandage to look at the wound. Hold the towel in place firmly but do not tie the towel on or put tape all around an arm, leg, chest, waist, etc.

Arrange for help at home

If the patient needs nursing care or assistance bathing, the care team at the hospital will make a referral and arrangements with Home Health.

Take care of yourself

It is very important to take care of yourself and find rest and a break from care giving. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from other friends, family members or neighbours.  If you'd like to talk to someone about your own emotions or fears, speak with a hospital social worker or your family doctor.

Resources

Frequently Asked Questions

Understand more about your surgery by visiting our Frequently Asked Questions section.

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