TUH Launches New Innovative Programme to Help Patients Prepare for Surgery

Stronger for Surgery(January 29th 2024) Tallaght University Hospital has just produced a series of short videos with 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 very changeable risk factors.

Waiting for surgery can be a stressful time for patients, having access to these materials clearly outlines things they can do, turning waiting time into preparation time, giving patients  better results during and after surgery. 

These are:

  • Introduction to the series and the importance of preparing for surgery
  • Eating well
  • Being more active
  • Stopping smoking
  • Managing feelings about surgery

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

Consultant General & Colorectal Surgeon Ms. Maria Whelan says, “Surgical Prehabilitation is a way to prepare physically and mentally to meet the challenge of surgery. It has been shown that following a surgical prehabilitation programme reduces the risk of developing complications such as chest infections and wound infections. 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.”

Clinical Specialist Dietitian, Siobhán Power says, “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.” 

When asked about the possibility of such a series patients attending the Hospital for surgery told us;

  • “Videos are a really good idea, everyone’s got a smartphone. I had to do my own online research.”
  • “This is my first time in hospital – I didn’t know what to expect. Any information would have been good.”
  • “People will watch videos - you could send them to your family too. I was very frightened about my surgery. Good advice takes the fear out of it.”

Declan Daly, Chair of the TUH Patient Community Advisory Council commenting on the series said:  “Knowing you need surgery can be very overwhelming, there are so many things we, the patients 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.”

TUH CEO Lucy Nugent praised staff who came together from different disciplines in the Hospital to produce these important materials saying, “The series, I believe is the first of its type in the country, I applaud the collective effort of so many disciplines coming together to produce a series that will benefit so many patients. They contain excellent advice on getting stronger and fitter, eating well and preparing yourself mentally for surgery, it is a very worthwhile initiative with the patients' welfare the top priority.”

The materials will be accessible from the Department of Surgery page on the Hospital website, the Hospital YouTube channel with QR codes included in letters to patients about their scheduled surgery.

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