Visiting a patient in a hospital isn’t as simple as stopping by someone’s home for a coffee and a chat. You are going to see a person who isn’t feeling or looking their best. They’re in a place where no one likes to be. It can be difficult to find the right thing to say to help them feel better, and there can be awkward pauses in conversation.
A ‘good’ visit can really cheer a patient up, and feeling positive will aid their recovery, but when it doesn’t go well it can make your friend or family member feel worse, which is the last thing anyone would want.
So based on our many years of visiting patients in hospital, we’ve compiled 15 top tips for successful hospital visits. Follow these and you can be confident that your visit did not detract from the patient’s care and hopefully in some way aided their recovery. And check out the bonus tip at the end of this blog for the patient or their close family.
Hospital Visit Etiquette
Planning the actual visit to someone in hospital needs a little thought and empathy. And there are a few ‘rules’ that anyone visiting a hospital patient should be sensitive to:
1. Not The Right Time For Questions
People tend to combine wishing a patient well with a short interrogation.
“Oh my gosh - I was so shocked when I heard! How are you doing? What on earth happened? What can I do?”
The intention is well-meaning, but the execution may need a little work! This is not about your need for information, but what the patient’s needs. They can feel vulnerable and they are in an unfamiliar place facing a health crisis and for various reasons they may not want to share details about their diagnosis/prognosis or the treatments and tests they are facing.
So before launching into questions, you need to ascertain their frame of mind. Be guided by their responses and the information they freely offer.
2. Plan When you’re Going to Visit:
First, you should notify the patient or a family member when you plan to come. Make sure it’s a good time for the patient.
3. Know The Rules:
You need to be cognizant of the hospital visiting guidelines. Most hospitals have their visitation times and rules posted near the main entrance, as well as on their website. Before you visit your friend or family member, make sure you check that your planned time is ok with the hospital as well as the patient!
4. When To Stay Away:
At all times, but even more so in this era of Covid-19, don't visit if you are sick. Stay well away if you have a fever, cough, or any other sign of sickness. The last thing that is needed in a place where people's immune systems are weak, are your germs.
5. Hand Sanitizer isn’t Just For Covid-19!
Continuing from item 4 above, it is important to be diligent about washing (or sanitizing) your hands