If you’ve ever spent time in hospital you’ll know just how boring it can be, and we’re not just talking from a patient’s point of view, no it can be pretty yawnsome when you’re the visitor too.
However, let’s not be completely ungrateful here, after all if you’re doing the visiting at least you’re not the one confined to bed rest, attached to numerous bleeping machines and having to listen to the moans of every other patient on the ward. There’s no getting away from the fact that hospitals are generally not nice places to be in, well unless you can afford to go private and stay in one of those ones that offer an à la carte menu, bespoke rooms and spa services, but we think there’s some things you can do to at least make the whole experience a whole lot more pleasant for both patient and visitor alike.
Before you’ve even arrived at the hospital there’s the small matter of getting there, which can be more stressful than you realise. If you decide to go by car, remember to take some change for parking, as there’s nothing more frustrating than finally finding a space and then not having the money to get a ticket. Plus make sure you have some old pound coins saved up, because most of the machines won’t yet have been changed to accept the new ones. Spare change is also handy for those much needed coffee and snack machine moments. It’s also a good idea to have a back up plan in mind when it comes to parking, as some hospitals can be quite limited on space and they are always busy. Check in advance where alternative parking may be and how far away it is from the hospital. Knowing that you have a plan in place will ensure you don’t arrive feeling stressed; the last thing you need is for the patient to sense your unease, as that definitely won’t help with their recovery!
Food Glorious Food
We all know just how bad hospital food is, right? And even though much has been done to try and improve the nutritional content of the food, budget cuts and the like still don’t allow for anything more than convenient, ready meal style dishes. It might seem a bit of a cliché to come bearing a bunch of grapes during visiting hours, but your loved one will be grateful for any food you bring them. Why not put together a small hamper, containing all of their favourite foods, or perhaps some plainer foods if they’ve lost their appetite a little. Things like fresh fruit, slow releasing energy from nutritious flapjacks, and of course a bar or two of chocolate…come on who doesn’t love a bit of choccy when they’re feeling rubbish?!
Hospitals aren’t always the best environment for kids, especially younger ones that you may want to shield from some of the nasty sights that hospitals inevitably involve, but they can also bring a sense of fun and lightness to an otherwise serious situation. If you would rather not have the hassle of chasing toddlers down the corridor, fending off inappropriate questions from inquisitive children, or you can’t face the idea of having to listen to one more moan from a teenager who’s cross that they can’t Snapchat their friends, then we need to come up with a different plan. One idea is to put together a few video messages from the kids, so that you can still capture their fun and uplifting energy, without any of the hassle attached. Younger children might also like to draw some pictures, or write letters for the patient, which is sure to raise a few smiles.
Flowers are all well and good, but there’s only so many bunches you can fit around one bedside, so let’s try and come up with a couple more original ideas. Why not put together a mix tape of all their favourite songs, making sure of course that they contain only upbeat and positive words. Or have a go at recording a reading of a book, so that they can have the joy of not only listening to a story being read to them, but also in a voice they know and love.
Another idea is to create a photo book containing lots of memorable pictures of happy moments you shared together and of all the people that make them smile. Nights can often be the loneliest times in hospital, especially if you’re unable to sleep due to uncomfortable beds or the noise from other patients on the ward. Having photos to look through at a time when a patient is likely to be feeling lonely and vulnerable is a way of reminding them that they aren’t alone and that they do have people who care about them very much.
Short and Sweet
Knowing how long to spend visiting loved ones in hospital can be a controversial subject. It’s only natural that you would want to spend as much time with them as possible, but that can be exhausting for both visitor and patient alike, and that’s not helping anyone. First and foremost, it’s important that you check when visiting hours are, as it’s likely to vary between hospitals. The last thing you need is to turn up unannounced, only to discover you’ll be pacing the corridors for the next couple of hours. It’s a good idea to plan in advance how long you intend your visit to be and make sure you stick to that cut off point. Keeping it short and sweet will ensure your loved one will want you to come and likewise that you’ll want to visit them again!
Know When to Ask For Help
Depending on how long your family member or friend needs to stay in hospital, may determine whether you feel you need a bit of extra help and this can come in all manner of forms. Whether you enlist other family members to tag team as a visitor, or even enlist the help of volunteers to help entertain and cheer up your loved ones, sometimes you just need to admit that you need help. Another thing to consider is that the longer the stay, the higher the risk for a reduction in the quality of care and service that the patient receives and this isn’t good. Sometimes it’s necessary to find out what your rights are as a patient or next of kin and at this point it’s advisable to seek professional help. Leading lawyers, such as Slater and Gordon, can help make your life a whole lot easier when you visit a loved one in hospital and give you the confidence to know exactly what you should do and what you should prepare for based on the individual patients needs.
Being admitted to hospital is never going to be easy, but hopefully our mini guide will help you make the experience as stress free and as plain sailing as you possibly can.