Saturday, June 29, 2013

Bring Summer to Those in the Hospital

Since the most popular post on the Healing Whole blog continues to be Unique Gifts for Hospital Patients, it’s time for some good ways to introduce summer fun for those in the hospital.

There is no “good time” to be a patient, but summer with the warmer weather, vacations,  BBQ’s, and all the wonderful outdoor things to do, just makes it feel even more challenging. That said, the upside is that there are less worries about hitting snow and sleet while going for an after work visit, and you can come and go in daylight.

As always, check with the staff before you bring something. Many hospitals have restrictions for fresh flowers or plants depending on the patient care unit. The person may also have food restrictions. Because allergies can also be an issue, avoid anything with scents.

In identifying what a person might like, consider how they normally spend their summers. Do they like to go to the ballpark and see a game? Is laying on a sandy beach their idea of  summer bliss? Maybe barbeques with friends is something they like to do. With that in mind, consider the following:

Set the scene: Generally a summer house/bedroom is one that is airy, bright and light. So in trying to recreate that feeling in a patient’s room, think less is more. Items you might bring: summery lap blanket; a picture, which can be hung; a vase of flowers of whatever is blooming outside; a collection of seashells and/or sand in a pretty jar; a vase of pinwheels, which you can easily make yourself.  If it’s close to the 4th of July or other holiday, items in red, white and blue are quite festive.

• Being by the water is a major summer theme and you can introduce that element into the hospital room by either purchasing an inexpensive water feature or making one. Take a large waterproof bowl, vase or whatever you have handy.  Stick a water pump into it. You can purchase these any place that sells fish tanks. It doesn’t have to be expensive. Cover the pump with rocks, add water and enjoy.

• There are plenty of  Aps and uTube videos for ocean and other nature sounds. Using a dock with a speaker is a good way to share the sounds of nature without having to worry about head phones. If they have a computer or tablet, these are just a few of the uTube videos you can download.

• Stores like Old Navy will have flip flops and “slides” that may be a welcome change from the hospital’s bedroom slippers.

Interactive Items: Find a large clam type shell (flat bottom). Depending on the person, turn it into a Zen garden including a tiny rake a few seashells or rock. It can also be their “day at the beach.” Include a tiny chair, small beach chair etc. It’s always worth checking out what your local Dollar Store has, but you may have better luck at one of the craft stores or even a place that sells doll furniture.

• Provide clay sand so they can make sand art(e.g. a sandcastle). There are probably some clays you can buy at the craft store, but this recipe is fairly easy and it looks like sand. Just remember that it needs to be used a day or two after it’s made.

Things to do Together: Watch a baseball game. Bring items that might be enjoyed at the ball park-team memorabilia, popcorn, and other special treats that are unique to your local ball park. Invite other patients to join in the fun.

• If it’s okay with the hospital staff, take the patient outside and enjoy the hospital grounds. If you have a portable grill, and you have approval of hospital staff, make a special BBQ or bring a picnic.

• Drive ins are so much fun, so create the feel of a drive in by watching a 1950’s monster or sci fi movie. Since a lot of action and fantasy films come out during the summer, that may be a genre to consider.  

• Star gazing is always fun. Follow the user guide at Stellarium and the same 3D realistic sky you see at the planetarium will be on your computer.

• Fireworks are a particular summer favorite. In Montreal they have the largest international fireworks competition in the world. You can enjoy many of the shows on-line. Australia 2013. 

Books/Magazines:  Everybody and their brother has a summer reading list-The Huffington Post, Oprah, and the New York Times. While some patients enjoy reading them, many find it too daunting and prefer to flip through a magazine or newspaper. So no matter how highly a book is recommended, they may prefer a new magazine. 

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