Hospital Visits: Making the Best of a Bad Situation

It’s always a worry when someone we love is taken into hospital for any reason. But whether your loved-one, friend or family members is in for a few days or a few weeks, you can visit them while they are there. Just bear these handy little tips in mind.

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Fruit and flowers are common, traditional presents to bring someone dealing with illness and/or injury. But have a little think before you bring in the tulips or the grapes. In terms of fruit, patients get fed quite nicely nowadays in NHS hospitals, too. You could of course bring grapes or another fruit, and the patient will probably enjoy some of it, but you can’t always expect them to eat a whole basket of fruit during what may be only a brief visit. Flowers, similarly, are a lovely gesture but will do little other than briefly raise the patient’s spirits. It may be better to bring books or magazines, instead, which will keep your loved-one busy. What about a puzzle book or a set of crosswords? A notebook or drawing pad to keep your friend or family members busy during the long days and longer nights on the ward?

Consider your own health, too. My mother-in-law recently underwent surgery and of course we wanted to go visit her – we love her very much. But we all had terrible colds, and the last thing she wanted was to catch a head-cold on top of her surgery; it would extend her recovery time and make it distinctly less pleasant, too. It may seem cold, but ultimately you could be saving your loved-one from a wealth of problems by choosing to stay away when you’re not in the best of health.

If you do visit, don’t take too long. It’s easy to feel you should spend as much time as possible cheering up your loved-one, but take your cues from him or her, too. Whenever I have general anaesthesia, I become very sleepy, and I spend days drifting into, and out of a soporific stupor. Of course I enjoy the company of my loved-ones, but ultimately I’m also fighting to stay awake long enough to be polite towards them. Take your cues politely and quietly and make sure you don’t make the patient feel badly for not being ready for visits.

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If your child is in hospital, things become a little different. Many children feel uncertain without their parents around, and you may want to stay for as long as you possibly can to help them feel at home and settled. Bringing books – particularly colouring books and comics, if that’s what it takes to distract them from their situation – can really help, and this is a great time to bring your children a random present such as a long-coveted toy. Make sure your child has a comfort item if they need it, and pyjamas from home are a good idea, too, to help them feel secure. Phoning at night before bedtime may also be a good idea to help remind them how much they are loved.

Hospital visits are often a bit of a minefield. Use these tips to make them easier to navigate!

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