Celebrating the Holidays in the Hospital
HealthWare Systems Blog
on Monday, December 3, 2018
Celebrating the holidays in the hospital can be tough for patients, their families, and your staff who take care of them this time of year.
The following ideas can make celebrating the holidays in the hospital happier for both your patients and employees:
Deck the halls!
Put together a team of volunteers to decorate your facility. Ask people to donate old Christmas and Hanukkah decorations – everyone usually gets a few new decorations each year and probably has some old ones to spare. Better yet, display homemade decorations created by your pediatric patients!
Provide patients and their families with a list of hospital-approved ways they can bring the holiday spirit to their stay.
For example, candles may be prohibited so perhaps an electric menorah is the best option. Can they bring in their own small Christmas tree or hang a few strands of lights? What about playing seasonal music (at a reasonable noise level) and watching holiday movies?
Passing out a list of ideas is a proactive way to clarify any questions about what is/is not permitted up front. In fact, patients may be pleasantly surprised that your facility allows quite a bit more than they expected. And you are less likely to have to act as The Grinch later if they are reminded about a few rules before they have a chance to break them!
Set up a time for pediatric patients (who are able) to go caroling around the hospital.
This will brighten their day as well as bring joy to the other patients who get a visit! Or, schedule a time for volunteer carolers to come in.
Plan a visit from Santa Claus!
Who better to lift everyone’s spirits than Old Saint Nick? Invite children to write letters to Santa as well.
Conduct a Toys for Tots drive and fill your facility with the spirit of giving.
Did you know the December health observances include Safe Toys and Gifts Month? Provide participants with guidelines for which toys are considered acceptable donations according to safety standards. A Toys for Tots drive presents a timely opportunity to be charitable AND improve patient safety.
Add a personal touch.
You can really brighten a patient’s holiday with personalized decorations or gifts. A former Regional Director of PreAccess, Joyce Bryant, shared her experience while working in hospice:
“Our hospice foundation gave us money to make small Christmas trees for each patient. My Patient Access department made 150 eight-inch trees. We hot-glued small ornaments we bought at Michaels. We also had employees donate ribbon and broken jewelry that we took apart. We decorated some in line with some of the patients’ hobbies – fishing, sewing, cats, etc. We did blue and white for our Jewish patients. We glued a small gold bell on each tree for those patients who didn’t have sight but could hear the tree.”
Joyce recommended hospitals “look at what their non-clinical, support staff can do. Some are just waiting to jump in and help!” What a special way to bring joy to both patients and staff.
Plus, the holidays bring feelings of gratitude, happiness, love, contentment, and joy. Spurring those emotions in your patients will not only benefit their mental health, but perhaps their physical health as well. Each of these feelings has been studied for positive physical effects.
We hope these tips will help your patients and employees in many ways this holiday season. Happy holidays to all patients, families, clinicians, and staff celebrating the holidays in the hospital!