Until last month, I had never stayed overnight in a hospital. I had spent plenty of time in hospitals both as an outpatient and as an employee. Staying with a loved one who was recently admitted to a hospital more than 25 miles from their home gave me new insight on how to help hospitalized patients and their families.
One of the most important ways to help hospitalized patients and their families is to be there for them. Sure, hospital rooms have limited space available for overnight visitors. However, the presence of at least one close family member or friend can alleviate the patient’s distress and help facilitate treatment. This individual can provide pertinent information to the health care providers as well as listen to what they and the patient have to say. Once the patient returns home, it’s still helpful for someone to be with them to monitor their progress and address concerns. Individuals can also be there to support family members.
A hospitalized patient may not have been able to contact anyone other than 911 or whoever transported them to the emergency center. Someone contacting close family members, friends, and employers on the patient’s behalf can help ensure the patient has the support he or she needs. If the family member or friend at the hospital can entrust updates to one person who will inform everyone else, this will free the person at the hospital to interact with health care providers and be there for the patient.
Most hospitalizations are unplanned, and even when planned, they interrupt the routines of the patient and their family and leave much work undone. Individuals can offer to run errands (e.g., feed pets, pick up medications, water plants, etc.) during and after the patient’s hospitalization. Even after discharge, many patients still need time to recover and regain their strength before resuming normal activities.
Individuals who do not live near the patient can also help in valuable ways. They can arrange to have meals delivered, send a plant, or make contributions to help cover unexpected financial expenses. Cards and videos with heartfelt sentiments also mean a lot to patients and their families.
Perhaps the greatest way to assist a hospitalized patient and their family is to pray. Individuals can pray for comfort, hope, and peace, as well as wisdom regarding the diagnosis and treatment. Prayer makes a huge difference—and anyone can pray anywhere at any time.
I will always be grateful for the opportunity to be there with my loved one during and immediately after their hospitalization. Knowing that family members continue to visit and assist my loved one and keep me informed has helped me since I returned to my home nearly three hours away. Every kind deed and word has touched my heart and helped me see how to help other hospitalized patients and their families in the future.