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Loneliness in hopitals

(47 Posts)
Jane10 Sat 08-Feb-20 15:00:43

I've recently signed up with RVS as a ward volunteer. I was so sorry to hear that in our new, state of the art, local, care of the elderly hospital, patients are lonely and unhappy. This is because they all have single en suite rooms. This sounds ideal until you realise that nurses have limited time to carry out procedures then flit on to the next room. This means that patients can be on their own for hours and hours at a time. Hence the need for people to be volunteer visitors to spend time just chatting or whatever sort of companionship patients might need.
It's frustrating that this is so predictable. I remember how my MiL just came to life when she moved into a ward. She so enjoyed watching what was going on and chatting to the lady in the next bed etc.
I think I'd like a single room at night but some sort of shared sitting room during the day if I was to be in hospital for any length of time. The patients I'll be visiting will be in for up to 28 days.

AGAA4 Sat 08-Feb-20 15:09:55

I agree Jane10. Being in a single room for hours at a time is maybe not helpful in getting better as social interaction is necessary to welfare and as you say nurses are rushed off their feet and can't stay for a chat.

pinkquartz Sat 08-Feb-20 15:30:57

It might be lonely but being in a busy ward means no sleep or rest.
Being in award with people you have nothing to say to isn't helpful.
My last stay I was surrounded by zombied and drugged much older people that made me worry for them. It wasn't helpful.
I prefer the privacy and a room people can go to if they want.
Like the old smoking rooms.

Welshwife Sat 08-Feb-20 15:44:40

Years ago hospitals had TV rooms which served as a communal sitting room too.

Jane10 Sat 08-Feb-20 15:48:53

I haven't started yet but hope to be holding some sort of tea party social group if there's a big enough space for one.

rosecarmel Sat 08-Feb-20 16:35:07

Jane10, what you're doing is wonderful-

The loneliness factor seemed to persist even when the residents were gathered in groups, while eating together or watching tv- I noticed this at the facility where my mother lived- There were scheduled activities but the residents showed no interest in participating-

If family members didn't come to pick them up for daytrips, they didn't leave the building- They received no sunshine 🌞

I understand that soon there will be a law requiring facilities to provide exposure to sunlight- Here in the US-

JuliaM Sat 08-Feb-20 17:12:06

The problem with the big Nightingale style ward is that they can be upsetting to patients when they see other people suffering or even pass away. By having private rooms, fellow patients can be shielded of the more unpleasant side of hospital life, and not have it clear for all to see and hear right under their noses. It used to be the job of the occupational therapists to provide ward activities and social stimulation on the long stay wards, but with financial cutbacks and extra roles added to this discipline this now.seldom happens,and their.main role at.assesments for disablility equipment and support for community living.

Jane10 Sat 08-Feb-20 17:20:26

I'd also like to be able to provide something for patients to talk about with their visitors. Even if it's just that daft Jane was in and you'll never guess what she said/we did/ the lady next door was saying etc etc. Just a bit of life really. Everything will depend on the individuals concerned. Some people will just want to do the Times crossword, others might want to discuss Corrie.

NotTooOld Sat 08-Feb-20 17:27:08

I've been in a private hospital room and hated it. I much prefer a ward where I can see what's going on. Not so keen on mixed wards, though, or don't they exist any more?

Yennifer Sat 08-Feb-20 17:43:29

Always worried me on maternity, with wards you could hear if someone was crying or struggling. Not now x

Franbern Sat 08-Feb-20 19:29:41

Must say being in hospital is bad enough, single room is a definite No,No for me. Manyyears ago, when I was in hospital following a very bad damaging fall and I was on total bed rest, there was an attempt to move me to a single room so that I could be visited by my young children. I cried my heart out about this, as not being allowed to get out off bed at all, I so needed to stay in the main ward, could see other people and have patients come to sit with me when they passed my bed,. Finally, the staff agreed with me, and left me where I was and I was wheeled into a small room to have visits from my young family,
In hospital last year, the ward was divided into small rooms, each of five or six patients, this seemed to me ideal, as there was always someone to chat to during the day, but not a Nightingale Ward.
Some of these rooms were all male and some all female, none were mixed.

M0nica Sat 08-Feb-20 19:46:17

The problem is both single and larger rooms are needed. When DMiL was in hospital terminally ill, she felt too unwell to read or listen to the radio but loved just lying in bed watching everything that happened on the ward and telling us all about it when we visited.

DD spent 10 days in hospital a few years ago. Most of the time her fellow patients were older women and she got on well with several, but at night they had a lady with dementia who shouted out and got out of bed and walked into other peoples cubicles and stopped her having relaxing sleep.

She was discharged far too early as they needed the bed and she said she didn't care because at least at home she could sleep properly, but it meant us providing 24 hour nursing care for her.

Yennifer Sat 08-Feb-20 22:23:14

I agree Monica, that would be such a better solution x

rosenoir Sat 08-Feb-20 22:50:30

I was told new hospitals have single rooms to stop hospital acquired infection and cross contamination, this is also the reason there are no communal sitting areas.

It is a lovely idea to have a tea party social group but if the no communal idea is happening in your hospital I doubt they would allow it.

Hetty58 Sat 08-Feb-20 23:35:26

I always prefer to pay for a private room and en suite. I don't usually want to socialise with just any random person. I certainly don't want to share bathrooms either. I value my privacy and peace and quiet. Sorry to say that, if you popped in for a cheery chat, I'd tell you to F* off!

So - you can't say that patients are lonely and unhappy because of the single rooms. We are all different. Many elderly people are well used to spending hours/days/weeks alone at home anyway. I'd be pretty unhappy - just due to being in hospital!

BlueSky Sat 08-Feb-20 23:59:08

As I am not a chatty person the private room would suit me fine and they have a TV in there which helps a lot. My DH would be lost as he loves chatting, if he could get about he would not doubt visit the other patients most of the time! So really it's all down to the individual and their circumstances. Well done Jane10 !

quizqueen Sun 09-Feb-20 00:15:02

Give me a private room any day. I'd hate to be next to other people in rows of beds and having to listen to them and their visitors. I'd read, complete crosswords and watch tv and hopefully there would be wifi, so I'd take my laptop with me. My visitors could come whenever too. I certainly wouldn't be lonely as I enjoy my own company. Also, if it was getting near the end of my life I'd want privacy for myself and my family.

grannyactivist Sun 09-Feb-20 00:25:29

When I was last in hospital I was much too ill to be sociable and was very glad of my own room. Once I improved enough to go on a ward I never had a moment's peace until I was discharged; I actually was very glad and relieved to get home to rest.

notanan2 Sun 09-Feb-20 00:30:19

Having your own private room when youre reasonably well is preferable. If youre sick its terrifying to be alone. I have been sick in a side room in hospital and felt terrified. Moved to a ward and felt able to rest because having people around meant the alarm could be raised if I collapsed or stopped breathing etc

SueH49 Sun 09-Feb-20 00:38:30

A private room for me too. I guess I'm a bit anti social and happy in my own company. I snore and am a frequent loo user so it is much better for me to be in a private room.
DH is in hospital at the moment but in a shared ward - just two in it. He too is a snorer so has some concern for the other patient. However, his biggest concern is that the other patient has the television on loudly at all hours of the day and night. There is little or no interaction between them and there is often a "situation" with the bathroom.

Shared wards do not always provide the social interaction that some think.

Hetty58 Sun 09-Feb-20 00:43:15

Maybe that's just you, notanan? I've been very sick and still found being alone more comfortable. I find having strange people around really alarming, especially when I'm too ill to defend myself - I don't feel safe.

fatgran57 Sun 09-Feb-20 01:07:38

I would rather be in a private room .

I am also anti-social and hate visitors and hate being seen in my pyjamas.

Maybe if I was (were?) really sick I wouldn't care.

Lovely of you Jane10 to think of doing this.

sharon103 Sun 09-Feb-20 01:29:01

I'm with Hetty58 on this one. Hetty58 Sat 08-Feb-20 23:35:20
It would be another F* off from me. smile
I've only been in hospital three times giving birth and I pray I never have to go in for a health reason. I remember not being able to sleep. People walking about and lights going on. Like Hetty, I like my privacy and my own company.
My 80 year old brother has just been in a general hospital for three weeks on a ward and transferred a few days ago to a local hospital rehab unit. He has his own modern room, television, bathroom, wardrobe, desk and chair. A communal dining room with tables for seating six where he gets taken down in a wheelchair as he has limited mobility. He's happier than has been for a long time.
In fact, we've been telling him that we're all moving in.
Just saying that people are different, some like to be in a single room, others like to see some activity.
I found that as an activity volunteer myself in an elderly residential home, dominoes, playing cards, bingo, guessing for example, flowers beginning with a certain letter of the alphabet etc are popular.
Good luck Jane. Being a volunteer is a satisfying role.
If you should find Hetty in a room and I'm in the one next best just walk on by. grin

CocoPops Sun 09-Feb-20 01:57:38

The hospice where I volunteer has 10 single ensuite rooms. All rooms have windows with views over the park. Residents can see people walking by or exercising their dogs and the rooms have a TV. There is a lovely sitting room with ocean views, a piano, books, jigsaws etc, another smaller sitting room and a dining room. Large family/friend groups are easily accommodated. Residents can walk or sit in the park or be pushed around in a wheelchair.
Volunteers are considered to be an integral part of the team valued and provide company and support and various therapies eg massage, reflexology, music and pet therapy. Whatever background volunteers have ,be they doctors, nurses, social workers or students for example, they have to undergo training in end of life care.

faye17 Sun 09-Feb-20 02:29:41

I was recently hospitalised for a bladder tumour removal. I was in hospital for 5 days during which time I was moved 3 times always to another public ward with at least 5 other patients. My beloved sister died 3 days before my admission & I was allowed go to her funeral service the day after my surgery.
I was in considerable emotional distress also because I was told I may have to have my bladder removed & there was concern also about my kidneys.
I am also quite a private person but can adapt when I need to. However each time I was moved I had to explain my circumstances to a new group of patients from whom I had no separation. I found it all very unsettling. The night before I was discharged the lights & tv were on til after midnight as that was the wish of the majority of the patients on that particular ward. That was also the day I had been been told I might lose my bladder. I pulled the curtains around my bed & cried myself to sleep.
The next morning I got out of the bed & decided to give what assistance I could to a couple of older frailer ladies having their breakfasts in bed. It did take my mind off my own worries.
All in all I would have really appreciated being left in the one spot - the moves were all in aid of ward management, not for my medical needs.
If I could have the luxury of my own room I think it would suit me personally as I had sufficient visitors to occupy me while still giving me lots of quiet time to rest, read & sleep.
Some people love to talk to everybody & have no qualms about asking the most personal questions of you just because you're in a bed in the same room. It can all be a bit much but I suppose it's part of the indignity of being in hospital.
Thankfully I have since been told my tumour was a a very low- grade cancer with only 5% chance of recurring. It was all a small price to pay to have had it removed & to receive such a positive prognosis