There’s no place like home for the holidays. Unfortunately, for many health care workers, patients, and family members, being at home during the holiday season may not always be possible. The holiday season can lead to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, frustration, and social isolation for sick and hospitalized patients. These negative feelings can also arise in the health care teams and hospitalists working long holiday shifts and missing out on precious time with family and friends.
In 2020, as coronavirus cases continue to rise around the country and hospitals are overcrowded with COVID-19 patients right now, this holiday may feel even more stressful and overwhelming than usual. But as a hospitalist, there are ways you can bring holiday cheer into the hospital and help your colleagues and patients have a better experience.
Keep reading for six tips on how to demonstrate care, compassion, and connection during a time when people may need it most.
Let the Holiday Spirit Shine with These 6 Tips
Be sensitive. Be sensitive toward cultural and religious differences around the holidays. Not everyone will be celebrating the same holidays, and some patients may not wish to recognize any holidays at all. Be mindful of each patient’s views and beliefs so that you can speak appropriately without accidentally giving offense or upsetting a patient.
Accommodate wherever possible. Seek out opportunities to add joy to the lives of your patients and their families around the holidays. Is one of your patients craving an extra dessert on Christmas Day? If that’s within their dietary allowances, then make it happen! Grant small wishes and desires when you can – whether that’s bringing in a favorite holiday movie for a patient to watch, playing some holiday music, or allowing family members to place a small fake Christmas tree or electric menorah at their loved one’s bedside. If you’re working in an isolated COVID-19 unit, arrange for a touchscreen tablet to be on hand so that patients can video chat with their families over the holiday season. Small acts of kindness can go a long way toward making your patients feel valued and loved right now.
Deck the halls. Gather your colleagues and staff and fill the hospital halls with cheer. Brightly strung lights, festive tinsel and other holiday decorations can instantly make your unit feel more cheerful and uplifting. Don’t forget to pull your patients and their families into the party. Ask your patients if they’d like their rooms decorated and see if family members are willing to bring in approved decorations to add cheer to drab rooms.
Spread cheer to your patients. Sadly, not every patient will have family or loved ones to help them feel special and valued during the holidays. If you’re able, consider bringing your patients small but thoughtful gifts to show you care. This could mean buying a holiday-specific card and having the patient’s entire care team sign it or making up little goody bags as a small holiday present.
Spread cheer to your colleagues. Being in the hospital over the holidays isn’t just hard on your patients – it’s also difficult, stressful and emotional for you and your colleagues. There are several things you can do to boost good spirits and goodwill in your unit. Having a Secret Santa, holding a holiday brunch or potluck, or baking treats to give to your fellow health care workers can help make the holiday shifts a little more enjoyable.
Give thanks. Above all, the holidays are a time to reflect and give thanks for what we have. One small and simple thing you can do this season is thank the fellow health care workers, lab techs, cleaning staff, aides, and cafeteria crew members who work alongside you every day. Thank them for their time, their willingness to work holiday shifts, their essential functions in keeping the hospital running smoothly, and for providing first-class care for your patients.
Contact Advanced Care Hospitalists to Learn More
ACH is a Lakeland-based hospitalist group providing comprehensive patient care in community hospitals across Central Florida. If you are interested in learning more about our programs, services, providers or becoming a partner facility, please call us at 863-816-5884 or fill out a contact form online.