In the busy world of nursing, it is way too easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the day. At some point all of us will become guilty of “ignoring” that one patient. There is too much to juggle sometimes, and we end up focusing more so on the safety and less on their happiness.
“Laughter is the best medicine”. As tired as this saying is, it holds much truth. A happy spirit can help the mind and body heal. If our patients are happy, we as nurses generally have better days!
There are endless ways to make our patients happy. Some simple and easy. Some require a bit more thought. We’ve got the basics such as taking the time to LISTEN to our patients, calling their family members with updates, and being an overall advocate for them!
What I want to touch on here are some special ways to bring a little extra sunshine in to help our patients battle their fear, frustration, and anxiety.
1. Pop of Color!
Let’s face it, hospitals aren’t normally “pretty” places. They can be drab and dreary, and in need of a slight makeover. This doesn’t have to be anything drastic. It can be as simple as bringing in those adult coloring books that everyone loves. Have your floor pull together a little cash and grab a few books from the dollar store along with some crayons. Rip out a few pages and take them to the patient. These are great de-stressing tools for all ages!
HINT: Print out pages from Google images if you don’t have books on the floor!
Good meals can make a big difference and we all know the on-going jokes of how bad hospital food can be. If you’ve got some extra time, look up some food delivery places around your hospital. Especially if the patient has been in the hospital for some time, they may be over the meals we normally have to offer. Place an order for something they’ll love.
Unfortunately, this can’t be done with every patient, as there are some with certain food instructions or consistency modifiers, but majority of the patients can appreciate your effort!
There was a patient on my floor for about two months. He had suffered a stroke and was experiencing expressive aphasia. He had such a hard time trying to tell dietary services what he wanted to eat, and most of the time he was upset with what he got. One day, I sat down with him and asked if he liked Panera, he said “no”. So then I mentioned pizza, which he seemed to really want. I was able to figure out that he wanted a cheese pizza with pineapple on top and ordered it from Domino’s. It was just a small personal pizza, and with the delivery fee, it costed about $15. This was beyond worth it. His face absolutely lit up and every time I walked by the door while he was eating, he would give a big thumbs up with a huge smile.
Small gesture. Big impact.
3. Move to the Music
For the longest time, I had no idea we had volunteers who play music at our hospital! This is pretty easy too. I just call our operator and get connected to our volunteer services. I ask who they have available for the day and request for them to stop by a certain room. This is something even the staff on the floor enjoy!
If your workplace doesn’t offer this service, there are businesses that can be reached to help you out, like Musicians On Call!
It’s peaceful and relaxing and offers great distraction for your patients.
4. Sick as a Dog
Piggybacking off number 3, many hospitals also have volunteers with service animals! Ours come around every Sunday and you can direct them to your patient if your patient is able to see them! On Christmas, the dogs were even dressed up in antlers, it was amazing! Puppy cuddles and kisses can brighten almost anyone’s day! Just look at these cute faces and try not to smile…I dare you!
(Halo on the left, Lilly in the middle (sweet girl in doggy heaven), and Blitz on the right!)
5. Nice View
Nobody likes to be cooped up in a room for days, or even a few hours for that matter. Sometimes it is very hard to find the time to get your patient out of the room, especially if their mobility is of concern.
But just getting a patient in a wheelchair for 5 minutes to wheel them down to a large window and around the unit, or getting clearance from a physician to go downstairs with family can bring some fresh air to their lungs.
On my unit, most of our rooms are semi-private. We have patients come and go at various times. I like to try to offer to move the patient in the bed by the hallway to the bed by the window, once their roommate is discharged. This offers them a view that is a bit better than hurried nurses running down halls on one side, and a privacy curtain on the other.
6. Salon Time
Who doesn’t enjoy having their hair brushed and played with? I would pay money just to have my hair washed by someone, it is so relaxing. So next time when you have a few minutes, grab a brush and get to work on the bird’s nest that is forming on the sweet older lady’s head!
Maybe someone on the floor has a bottle of nail polish as well? That can come in handy in turning a hospital room into a beauty salon, even if for a brief moment.
7. Master of Massage
Pretty self-explanatory here. Get some lotion, rub the feet (WITH GLOVES ON PLEASE), and scratch the back.
This doesn’t need to be an hour long Swedish, hot rocks, seaweed wrap kind of massage. But a little goes a long way. These 5-10 minutes with your patient can be very meaningful and are a great way to show that you’ve got time to sit, chat, and be there for them.
8. Brain Teasers
Along with printing off coloring book pages, Google “adult word search”, “sudoku”, or any other games. Just hit that print button and drop them off for your patient! You don’t have to stay in the room, but they’ve still got something new to work on instead of staring at the TV.
Your patients will be a variety of ages, education levels, and interests. The beauty of the internet, is that everything is only a few buttons away! You can even personalize the puzzle a bit by typing in “travel”, “cars”, or anything else the patient is interested in.
So there you have it! Just a few fun and creative ways to show a little extra care to your patients.
I’m always looking to find other innovative ways to brighten my patients’ days, so feel free to comment below or email me with some of your thoughts!