We have found this information to be very informative when visiting those who are hurting. Please print for your use!
- Come at a time that is best for the family. It is usually best to have a pre-set time for your visit. However, it is important to understand that the person you are visiting, may have had a tiresome day and may not be able to see you. If this turns out to be the case, be prepared. Leave a note or a card that you have brought along with you, writing them a simple note that you were thinking about them. If you are able to see them, stay for only a short time 1/2 hour or so – unless there is something you are specifically doing for or with them.
- Bring something with you on your visit that is special to you, that you wish to show them – something to talk about. Be prepared to have your conversation be about the things that would be interesting to them: something you’ve read, a movie you’ve seen, someplace you have visited. Getting them to laugh is very therapeutic. Remember in talking to them that they are in a bed and their world is different from yours. Always remember what is important to them and try to bring that up during the conversation. Do not ask a lot of medical questions; just show that you are interested in their world and their life.
- Remembering to wash your hands when entering the room to show that you care about their health. This is just a good idea since you will want to sit near the person and washing your hands helps prevent the spread of germs. In doing this simple act, it shows the person that you are considerate about their health.
- Making eye contact is so very important. Sometimes when entering the room you see a person who might look different then before. Remember they are not defined by what they look like on the outside, but rather who they are on the inside. Keeping your eyes focused on them shows that you care about them. The machines and the sounds in the room can be overwhelming to anyone who is not used to it. Just keep your eyes focused on the person and their needs.
- Be mindful not to stand in the way of things they need: medication, food, bathroom breaks, diaper changes, blood draws, etc. Be considerate and leave the room during those times if needed. Nurses and doctors often come into the room to check on their patients. Be alert as to when you should be silent, move or leave the room so that others can talk.
- Realize that this trauma goes far beyond the person, and that their entire family is affected. Come ready to interact with the other family members also. When someone is changed by sickness, the whole family dynamic changes, as well.
- Leave something on the wall for them to remember your visit: a picture, Scripture verse, or drawing. Often those who are ill are in bed and confined to a smaller living space. Brightening their room with reminders that they are loved is comforting.
- Find time to stay connected. Send cards or emails between your visits. You might even leave a message on their answering machine. Do not, however, necessarily expect a response. Know that your message will get your point across.
- Be consistent. Don’t say or promise something if you are not sure you can fulfill that promise. Attempt to keep any promise you make to visit again (emergencies excepted). It is often better not to promise anything, then to make a promise and not be able to fulfill it.
- Put your own interest and feelings aside, and focus fully on the person and their family. A truly ministering person will think of what others’ need even before they are asked.
- While visiting, do a mental check list of things that you might be able to do to help the family; housecleaning, food shopping, baby-sitting, getting coffee, etc. Put yourself in their place and ask yourself, “What sort of things would I need and want if I were in their situation?”
- Be mindful to never visit when you are feeling ill or sick. A cough or cold might greatly interfere with the healing schedule of a sick person. Better to reschedule your visit for another time then to take a chance of transferring your illness.
- Continue to keep the family and the person in your prayers. Tell them that you will set aside a time each day for them in prayer. This means so much to the family and person to know that they are being thought about and cared for in this way.
- Please know that one person, just one, can make a huge difference in the world of another. Don’t wait until a group is formed, you can and will start making a difference today.
For more information, download Hospital and Shut-in Visitation Helps.