The holiday season is usually a time of joy and cheer for most people, but for patients who are enduring a hospital stay during this time, it can become a more bleak scenario. While their hospital stay might be unavoidable, that doesn’t mean that their holiday cheer has to suffer. There are a few ways that healthcare professionals can lift the spirits of their hospital bound patients this season. Here are some friendly suggestions to help bring the holidays into the hospital when your patients can’t get out to celebrate.
Try to Gauge Their Current Emotional Status
This might be a tricky one, but it’s very important to gauge where your patient is at in terms of morale and respond to it accordingly. Making a big deal out of the holiday season when they originally might not have cared all that much might have the opposite intended effect and bring their spirits down. It is common to make casual conversation with patients during check-ups and rounds, and during this, it is alright to ask how they are feeling emotionally. Keeping your patients happy can be a big part of their recovery and make their stay generally more comfortable. Listen carefully when your patients are telling you about how they’re feeling, if you can determine that they are content, you can focus more on their physical care. Don’t harp on the situation too much and try to keep them in their contented state. If you can sense sadness and negativity creeping in, it’s time to take action.
Manage Mental Health Issues
While your main concern is always their clinical care, you are in control of so many of their experiences that it is also your responsibility to try to keep them happy and content to the best of your abilities. Don’t allow your patients to slip into a depressive state that could harm their emotional and even physical well being. Studies have found a direct link between mental health and disease survival rates. For example, patients with cardiovascular disease were rated 85% less likely to survive than their non-mentally affected counterparts.
Try to stay on top of mental health issues in your patients by frequently checking up on their status like articulated above and addressing the issue at the first sign of depression or anxious tendencies. Mental health issues can be worsened during this time of year, as the time away from home and family is not constructive for those suffering from depression. Try to stop these flare ups in their tracks by getting them the psychological care that they need at the first sign of trouble.
Keep it Festive
If your patients need a little boost, it never hurts to try to make the hospital seem less clinical. Putting up a few minor Christmas or Hanukkah decorations can make a hospital seem a little less sad and a little more warm and homey. This can also help make your shift a little more fun. Acknowledging the season can make your patients feel like they still get to celebrate, even if they’re in the hospital. One of the most disappointing parts of being in the hospital over the holidays is feeling like you’re missing out on the festive fun. A medical team can try to bring a little bit of fun to you with small acknowledgements of the season such as festive flyers, signs, or other superficial perks.
Plan Around Holiday Events
Many hospitals have the privilege of having special holiday themed events. Sometimes these are toy drives, sometimes they are in the form of stockings for long term patients, or even a visit from Santa Claus has been known to occur in many hospitals. This is especially true for children’s hospitals. Unfortunately, many of your patients may be considered too sick to participate in events even if they are right in the hospital. If you can, try to find ways around this. If your patient isn’t walking, see if you can wheel them into the common area for the festivities. If your patient is completely bed ridden, see if you can bring some of the event to them in their room. Try your best to not let them feel as though they’re missing out on anything And if all else fails, be especially cheery in your interactions with them to minimize their disappointment.
If you’re interested in helping patients have happier and healthier hospital stays, you might make a great Patient Care Technician. Woodruff Medical Training has a great program to help you get started in this fulfilling field!