Taking a trip to the hospital to visit a friend or family member is never easy. Hospitals are depressing environments at the best of times, not least when somebody close to you is ill. But paying that person a visit can help them feel much better, even if it’s just for the hour that you’re there.
But visiting a loved one in hospital isn’t as easy as simply turning up. There are numerous rules and regulations which you must adhere to, visiting hours to take into account and rigorous protocol to follow when actually in the hospital. Here we look at things to consider before visiting and tips to ward off any issues.
To go or not to go?
Before you visit, it’s important to first consider whether it’s appropriate. The patient may have already had a long stream of visitors that day, leaving them feeling tired. Or if they’ve recently come out of surgery, they may not feel up to entertaining guests. It’s always best to check with the staff at the hospital and liaise with other family members to ascertain whether a visit is on the cards. Even more importantly, if you’re feeling under the weather or have recently been ill, you might do more harm than good by visiting, especially if you’ve been suffering with a cold, flu or stomach troubles. The NHS recommends that you wait for at least 48 hours after symptoms have cleared before visiting.
If unsure it’s always best to check with the hospital first, either online or by phone. According to a survey by Slater & Gordon, many people (28%) visit the hospital’s website to find out about visiting hours and procedures.
It may sound obvious, but ensuring that your hygiene is good will help you avoid any faux pas when you visit the hospital. Possibly the most important thing to think about is hand hygiene. Millions of potentially harmful bacteria are carried by your hands from everyday life, and as hospital patients are susceptible to infection it’s imperative that your hands are clean at all times. Make use of the antibacterial hand gels which are placed on walls around the hospital, especially before you enter a patient’s room.
Say The Right Thing:
Finding the right thing to say to someone in hospital can be tricky. Regardless of whether you’re best friends or direct family, searching for comforting words can be a stressful ordeal. You’ll want to say something positive to lift their spirits but not want to mention anything that will make them feel down. The key is to not overthink it. Sometimes, saying nothing at all can be the most meaningful- just being there for moral support is, at times, all the patient needs.
Also, patients will want to be distracted from their current surroundings. They have spent all day talking to medical professionals, so the last thing they will want to talk about is their illness. Try talking about current affairs or something unrelated to the hospital!
The Gift of Giving:
Taking a gift for your loved one is a kind and thoughtful gesture. But what sort of gift is allowed on the ward? Flowers are a popular choice as they instantly brighten up a gloomy room, however, it’s best to check with the hospital to check if a bouquet is allowed. Some hospitals have a ban on flowers as they can carry airborne bacteria, whereas others happily allow a colourful bloom.
As patients have a lot of time to kill, a selection of reading material is always a good present. Buy their favourite magazine or a critically acclaimed novel to keep their mind occupied throughout the day.
No matter what gift you choose, or when you visit, the important thing is that you’ve made the time and effort spend some time with your loved one. Just follow these simple steps to ensure that your trip to the hospital goes as smoothly as possible.