Building a Better Health Service

Your Health

TUH launches new programme to help patients prepare for surgery

TUH programme to help patients prepare for surgery

“Surgical Prehabilitation is a way to prepare physically and mentally to meet the challenge of surgery,” according to Tallaght University Hospital (TUH) Consultant General and Colorectal Surgeon, Ms Maria Whelan. “It has been shown that by following a surgical prehabilitation programme, the risk of developing complications such as chest infections and/or wound infections is reduced. The stronger you are before surgery, the faster you will heal and recover. Just like athletes need to train before a big event, people who are going to have surgery also need to get ready.”

Key ways patients can help themselves 

Ms Whelan was commenting following the recent production by TUH of a series of short videos featuring key advice for patients scheduled to have surgery. Malnutrition, frailty and cigarette smoking are all risk factors for poor outcomes after surgery. The materials have been developed as a way to educate and empower patients to reduce these changeable risk factors.

Waiting for surgery can be a stressful time for patients. The weeks and months leading up to surgery are a great time for patients to get their minds and bodies prepared so that they can recover quickly afterwards. The video series focuses on some of the most important ways patients can help themselves.

According to TUH Clinical Specialist Dietitian, Siobhán Power, it usually takes “at least four to six weeks of prehab to see the most benefits, but it is never too late to start. Eating well is an important step in getting ready for surgery. Good food provides the right fuel to fight infection and heal wounds so that you can recover faster. Protein is a building block that keeps muscles strong, fights infection and helps wounds heal. Patients getting ready for surgery need even more protein than usual.” 

"Knowing you need surgery can be very overwhelming - there are so many things we cannot control. I think these materials are exactly what patients need. The easy-to-understand materials guide you through the relatable, practical information. The team involved in the project are to be congratulated for putting their collective expertise together. I have no doubt the materials will help patients get stronger for surgery.” Declan Daly, Chair of the TUH Patient Community Advisory Council

Congratulating all the staff who came together from different disciplines across the hospital to produce the videos, TUH CEO Lucy Nugent added that “the series, I believe, is the first of its type in the country. The videos contain excellent advice on getting stronger and fitter, eating well and preparing yourself mentally for surgery. It is a very worthwhile initiative with patients welfare as the top priority.”

Funding for the initiative was made available via the HSE Spark Ignite Program which is supported by the National Quality Improvement Team, the Nursing and Midwifery Services Director and the National Health and Social Care Professions Office.