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15 Thoughtful Things Every Hospital Visitor Can Do

Chicken soup and so much more.

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1. Pick up their basic items from home.

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If your loved one has had to go into hospital in a hurry, there's a chance that they haven't packed well. They might have brought pyjamas, but will not have brought slippers (for walking to the bathroom for example), as well as things like deodorant, toothpaste and toothbrush and tampons (if needed).

2. Bring a spare phone charger.

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They might have forgotten to pack one. And you can never have too many, especially with visiting relatives and friends.

3. Volunteer to spread the news.

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It's tiring to have to call up every relative and explain how you're getting on, how the operation went and so on. Let your loved one know that you're happy to pass on messages and status updates to mutual friends/relatives.

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4. Don't depend on Netflix.

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If you have access to one, then bringing an iPad pre-loaded with shows is a brilliant idea. Depending on the hospital, and the ward, the patient might be sharing a television in a large room, have to pay to use a television or not have access to one at all.

You could also lend them a laptop and a box set - when you can't control your health, it's nice to control which episode of 30 Rock you want to watch.

5. Fill up their iPod with an amazing playlist.

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New music - or comforting and familiar music, is such a treat. Alternatively, you could make a offline Spotify playlist and download it for them over wifi at home/ in a cafe, so that they can have music even if there's no internet access.

6. Help them get online.

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Again, depending on the hospital, there might not be free wifi, or even a good internet signal. If your internet service provider has a remote login, lend your loved one the password for the duration of their stay.

7. Find out what they'd like to read.

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Whether it's their favourite magazine, or an old familiar book. Hospital gift shops might not have the best selection for your loved one, and it's a comfort to have your favourite reading material.

Be sure to tailor it to them, some people might be very bored and would relish a meaty novel. Others might feel too ill to concentrate on something weighty. A colleague adds, "someone brought my friend the Argos catalogue and she said it was perfect."

8. Try and accommodate their cravings.

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Obviously this depends on how your loved one's appetite is, or if they are on a special diet, but a taste of home can be really comforting. A colleague adds, "when my sister was in hospital, she was dying for a McDonald's Happy Meal so we drove 10 miles and back to sneak one in for her."

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9. Arrange a snack table.

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Bring snacks to nibble on in between meals - again, depending on what the patient's appetite/dietary restrictions are. A colleague adds, grapes are a cliche but they can be actually perfect food for people who may have difficulty eating or who may be nauseous from various drugs. They're easy to chew and swallow and are tasty and healthy.

Even if the patient isn't hungry, it's nice to have something to offer visitors.

10. Put together a basket of goodies.

Things like handcream for dry skin (especially with frequent sticking plasters/ anti-bacterial gel), dry shampoo - if they can't shower, and some soothing lavender oil for their pillow, perhaps. They don't have to be fancy - places like the Body Shop do affordable kits, or you could buy a range of miniatures in the chemist.

11. Check before you bring flowers.

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Some hospitals won't allow flowers (although others might), so check before you bring them. If the hospital doesn't allow them, then bring some cheerful fake flowers instead.

12. Plan an activity.

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It might be that your loved one is too tired for a conversation, but would welcome a distraction. Bring a bumper book of easy crossword puzzles that you can verbally do together. Or a puzzle that will fit across their meal table.

13. Offer to clean their house for their return.

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There's nothing worse than coming home from a stretch in hospital to a messy house. A clean and calm home will help the patient recuperate too.

14. And offer to stock their fridge too.

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Coming home to find only some sad bread and milk is not ideal. Chicken soup, fresh vegetables and favourite snacks, however.

15. But most of all, bring *yourself*.

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Your loved one is excited to see *you*, and is probably fed up with talking about their illness, and their medical treatment. Of course, if they want to, you can discuss it. But the best thing to do is to talk about normal life, gossip and, hopefully, the fun you'll have once they're well again.

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