Undergoing bariatric surgery is both a transformative and challenging experience for patients; the preparation process takes many months and post-operative success is contingent on patients making significant lifestyle changes. Patients who are considering bariatric surgery first attend a three hour information session where they learn about the bariatric program, surgery, required lifestyle changes as well as potential risks and complications. Patients report that attending the information session can be intimidating and overwhelming. The Peer Support Program at Humber River Hospital’s Bariatric Center aims to reduce these feelings and is helping to improve patients’ experiences. At each information session, a patient who has already undergone surgery spends 15- 20 minutes sharing their experience with the group and answers any questions they may have. Some of the peer support volunteers bring clothes that they wore prior to bariatric surgery. Patients report that seeing how much weight the peer support volunteer lost after surgery is both encouraging and inspirational! Our Peer Support Program is growing and we are now preparing to expand it to include the opportunity for 1 on 1 peer support meetings in the clinic for patients who state they have further questions for the peer support volunteer. The Peer Support Program has been highly successful, patients consistently reporting that it reduces their anxiety and that it is the most meaningful component of their pre-operative preparation.
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