The holidays can be a lonely time for anyone experiencing them away from home. We all have our family traditions that we look forward to: Christmas Eve at Grandmas, pumpkin pie, caroling. Imagine how your patients must feel throughout the holiday season, isolated from loved ones, sick and trying to cope with the interruption of their daily life and routines.
What can healthcare workers do to aid our patient’s enjoyment of the festivities, while also honoring their own traditions?
We can create a holiday spirit within the unit, asking all employees to contribute. A small tree, wreath or garland combined with a splash of bright red and green decorations can really lift the mood of an otherwise sterile and color free clinical environment.
For those patients that are well enough, enlist their help making paper garland chains, snowflakes or other crafts to add to the holiday décor. Contributing to the unit can create a sense of belonging and unity while spreading holiday cheer.
Arrange movie times within the unit to view traditional holiday films; invite local groups to perform music and readings. For patients that are confined to bed, you can play seasonal music recordings or provide a listing of holiday programs that can be heard or viewed within their own room.
Perhaps with the assistance of relatives, you can bring the holidays to your patient’s room by asking them to decorate with cards and other cheerful decorations to set the joyful mood, within reason of course. Bringing a bit of home to the hospital is always a great way to make one’s stay more comfortable.
But most importantly, you can do your part by sharing a smile with others, greeting them with holiday wishes and sharing the spirit of kindness.
Hospital stays can be a scary time for anyone, at any stage in life, but being hospitalized during the holiday season presents and even greater challenge for most.
A smile, hug, taking an extra moment and a little empathy mean a great deal to even the sickest patients and their families throughout their stressful experience.