Whether it is just for an overnight stay, a few days of post-operative care or an extended time in hospital, being away for any length of time is tough so here are a few ways you can make it just a little bit better for the patient.
When they are admitted to hospital, many patients forget to take in their creature comforts – their favourite pyjamas, a bath robe, pillow, blanket or fluffy slippers. All they are left with are just the starchy hospital sheets – not conducive to getting better! Taking them some cosy loungewear or even a nice quilt will certainly help them recuperate in a little more comfort!
Lack of Wifi
Many hospitals have wifi but it can be intermittent and the ward can be a lonely and boring place without some electronic gadgetry to keep you company. Whilst streaming a favourite movie or box set might prove tricky, you could offer to take away the patient’s ipad and download some entertainment on to it for them. Who wouldn’t want to sit in bed catching up on House of Cards? Oh just don't forget to take headphones and a charger too.
Whilst the patient is in hospital, they may need help at home like feeding the cat or picking up a delivery so make sure that you are on hand to offer assistance. If you are willing to act as a babysitter then you will be worth your weight in gold as finding child care for several days can be an added stress that the patient doesn’t need and taking away stress is one of the most important gifts you can give to a patient. Sit with them and make a list of the tasks that need to be accomplished during their stay and then assign the jobs to friends and family.
Although hospital food is (allegedly) improving, some extra snacks never go amiss! However, it is worth remembering that some people like to avoid dairy or cut down on their sugar intake when undergoing treatment so chocolates, cakes and biscuits could end up going to waste. Have a look for luxury, low sugar dairy-free chocolates instead.
Lack of colour
Hospital walls are usually beige, with no personality, no colour and offering no inspiration! However, a few pretty postcards, maybe some bunting, a couple of colourful scatter cushions and even a precious piece of child’s art can do wonders in cheering up the patient’s room. Just check with the nurses first.
Although the patient is likely to be grateful for visitors, the golden rule is to know when to leave! If the patient wants to rest, then you leave. If they want a special moment with a loved one, then you leave! If they are overrun with visitors, then you leave! If they want some quiet time, then you leave! Just use some common sense and know that if they are nil by mouth you don’t sit there chomping on a chocolate bar! And only sit on the bed if they are happy with that.
Hospital car parking can be a nightmare so offer to drive the patient to hospital and take care of parking whilst they go in. Have some change ready and if the patient has left a car, make yourself responsible for topping up the ticket when necessary.
Preparing for their return home
After the patient returns home, they may have physical restrictions following surgery and normal tasks like grocery shopping and laundry become complicated. Hospitals can make you tired so if you can help by making a meal or competing household chores you will help the patient no end.
It will give the patient a real boost if you can help to keep them clean and ‘groomed’! If you are close to the patient, trimming fingernails, doing their hair or giving them a pedicure is an enormous gesture and will be much appreciated! Otherwise some pampering treats will go down well. Many hospitals are very dry and patients will be eternally grateful for some special hand cream or moisturiser.
Many hospitals don’t allow flowers (and not everyone likes them anyway!) so try and think outside of the box. Maybe a hamper for a new mum, a box of special toiletries or a pretty eye mask and earplug set to help them sleep on the noisy, bright wards. We have loads of ideas for you.
One final thought is that if others send gifts that can’t be used by the patient, consider passing them on to the nursing staff. They do a great job and it is nice to give them something back too.