Well-being tips for caregivers at the hospital

Being a caregiver can be rewarding, but remember to take care of yourself and your needs, too. Taking time away from the hospital will help you manage this stressful period long-term and will help maintain your overall health so you can continue to support your loved one.

  • Resources such as multi-faith spiritual care and social work are available for your support. Ask the bedside nurse or the unit clerk for their contact information.  
  • Some hospitals have resources such as education materials and tools to help patients and their families participate in their own health care. Computers for Internet access and email, fax, and a photocopier may also be available.
  • Speak to the Indigenous Patient Navigators or multi-faith services to learn about space set aside for prayer, meditation, reflection, and smudging.

Use a notebook

Divide it into three separate areas.

  • In the first section, write down the names of the social worker, any physicians and other care providers who are involved in your loved one’s care.
  • In the second section, write down any questions that come to mind. You may forget information you have been told, or need to hear information repeated. This could also be a reminder for you to follow-up on any pending news.
  • The third section is your journal so you can write down anything that may be on your mind. Many families find this a helpful coping method.

Take care of your physical health

  • Taking time for rest, meals, fresh air, and being away from the hospital will help you cope with what can be a stressful time.
  • Get a good night’s sleep. Stressful situations combined with sleeplessness will eventually wear on you and make you prone to illness. You should not sleep overnight at the hospital. Do not feel you have to be available on-site every moment. A trained medical team is looking after your loved one.
  • Eat well. Try to eat healthy foods rather than convenient snacks.
  • Exercise. Get up and walk around. Getting out of the hospital helps to clear your head.

Create a personal coping kit

Put together a kit that may contain pictures, mementoes, books, magazines, healthy snacks, a tooth brush, small pillow, or other things that may make you comfortable during long days.

Gather support

  • Gather support from family and friends. If others come to visit, take the opportunity to refresh yourself. The continual light and noises are draining.
  • Take breaks from the constant sensory input. When someone asks, “What can we do? We’re here to help” give yourself permission to ask for help.
  • If there are many people available, make a rotational schedule. Time spent in the hospital may be the beginning of a long recovery. Your strength will be needed throughout your loved one’s recovery.

Stay positive

Make sure everyone is encouraging and hopeful while with your loved one.

Always talk with your loved one, keeping them informed about what's going on. Read cards that have been sent. Bring in pictures of the patient when they were healthy so staff can see the person behind the patient. Fill out our “Get to know” boards and include a photo, if you wish. 

Support at home

As you spend many hours in the hospital supporting your loved one, matters may go unattended at home. Delegate someone to pick up the newspapers and mail. Ask someone you trust to ensure bills are paid. Most importantly, make sure you have child care if necessary.

Special thanks to Fraser Health for providing the information for this page.

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