5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Post Surgery Caregiver
By Alex Friedman, PA-C, Crane Center
Recovering from surgery can be physically and mentally challenging for patients. Even if surgery has been planned for months, post-operative planning can be easily overlooked, and expectations of needs can be easily underestimated. Who will drive you to appointments or to refill medications? How will you care for your dressing changes? What if you fall and cannot get up? From our experience, after listening to stories of patients’ recovery and understanding the intricacies of post-operative healing, we have realized the necessity of coordinating care for after surgery. We feel there are special caregiver qualities you should assess to help you get through the recovery process.
1. Experienced: Don’t get us wrong, we don’t expect a caregiver to have lofty certifications for patient care. Having an experienced caregiver should mean someone who is mature enough to understand what to do when a person is in need. Being able to exhibit responsible empathy towards you will help validate what you’ll potentially experience. This will likely allow for the mental and physical attentiveness that is vital to a healthy recovery. While you are the one who has undergone a life changing operation, your caregiver should show the compassion you deserve.
2. Personable: Humility can be lost very quickly after surgery with the vulnerability of being naked, mental and physical, can be harrowing. Moreover, isolation during recovery can be so traumatic with feelings of loneliness, worry, and sadness that can prolong the healing process—or worse! So it makes sense to have a caregiver who can understand how personal their role is in your recovery. A personable caregiver should be the one to pick up your spirits and, like we said above, empathize when it’s appropriate. Additionally, we’d expect a personable caregiver to be a quality communicator. Communication is crucial—not only for you and the caregiver, since the majority of your time will be spent together, but communicating with medical providers of friends/family if you're unable to fully articulate your needs/questions during your recovery.
3. Patience: Have you heard the old adage “Patience is a virtue”? Emotions change, plans change, wounds change, and each day can bring a new change, so choosing a caregiver who is patient enough to weather unpredictable storms is essential and sheds rational on any possible irrational situations.
4. Trustworthiness: It takes a lot of trust to have someone care for you after a life changing surgery. The caregiver you choose needs to exude a trusting and dependable persona to allow you the space and time to mentally and physically heal. If the caregiver you choose is a family member or complete stranger the questions you should ask yourself might be: Do I feels safe in the hands of this person, do I trust this person around my personal things (finances, personal relationships, medical information, etc), will they be punctual with medical appointments, will they have my back no matter what? The last thing you want to do while healing is to think about and question the person who should be caring for you in a time of need.
5. Strong Stomach: This may seem a bit silly, but we’ve heard from countless patients and caregivers they weren’t prepared for the wounds, smells, or leakage that may happen after surgery. Even experienced nurses can have a queasy stomach so having qualifications for patient care doesn’t necessarily mean a strong stomach for wound care and the like. This quality may be a bit harder to vet since you might not want to test your caregiver’s stomach with slasher film binge watching or inspection of roadkill, but it might be a good conversation to have to go over their comfort level. We’ve come across various caregivers who found it difficult if not impossible to change dressings for the patient after surgery which is not only burdensome for the patient but also possibly unhealthy for the patient.
Alex Friedman PA-C is a certified Physician Assistant specializing in
Reconstructive Plastic and Urologic Surgery, and brings over half a decade of
experience working in Aesthetic and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery. Alex
works primarily assisting Dr. Michael Safir in the Crane Center San Francisco
office. He is a graduate of the University of California of Davis and Samuel
Merritt University in Oakland.