Staying in hospital

Life in hospital can be tiring and dull so it’s normal to want to switch off. Try to keep your brain active by doing something you enjoy or even taking up a new hobby. And make the most out of the people around you – talking is often the best way to pass time and get the most out of it.

Taking the essentials

There are plenty of things that might help to make your time in hospital more comfortable and combat any boredom. Here are some suggestions from other young people:

  • Something snuggly for your feet like slippers or slipper socks
  • Comfortable clothes like baggy t-shirts and joggers
  • Smartphone or tablet. You could download some games or apps, digital books or podcasts to keep you busy.
  • Charger. Never forget the charger.
  • Puzzle and activity books. Mindfulness colouring books are a firm favourite right now.
  • Favourite snacks or drinks you’d like to have with you 
  • Headphones to listen to videos, music, audiobooks or podcasts – if you’re listening on a smart device it’s a good idea to make them available offline in case you have problems with the internet connection in hospital
  • Essential toiletries. Moisturisers, hand cream and lip balm can be especially handy.
  • Notebook and pen
  • Some cash in case there’s anything you need from the shops – or you fancy a decent coffee!
  • Books and magazines
  • Photos or anything precious you want to have near you – especially something that makes you smile
  • MP3 player, hand-held games console or portable DVD player

Keeping busy

Being in hospital can feel very tedious at times. It can affect your mood and make you feel low. While it's important to allow your body to rest, keeping your brain active will give you something positive to focus on. 

Our boredom busting ideas feature free or cheap online courses and apps which you can dip in and out of. Master online coding, get knitting, learn  Spanish, improve your creative writing or start yoga - there's something for everyone!

“It’s very important to keep yourself entertained and try and keep your brain active because it’s so easy just to switch off and just try and sleep the whole thing through.”

Staying connected

Many of us are used to having social media, emails, videos, search engines, online games and entertainment at our fingertips. Having access to all of this can feel even more important in hospital and it’s frustrating if you can’t get online. Some hospitals will offer Wi-Fi but if it’s too expensive or you don’t have access, you could check your phone’s data plan or buy a dongle or SIM card.

Exercise and looking after yourself

Regular, gentle exercise is often encouraged throughout cancer treatment. Our info on looking after yourself is all about how to be kind to your body and mind - making you feel stronger and more in control. Watch other young people talk about how they felt and what they did that helped - from losing hair and self esteem, to eating well and skincare routines

Food in hospital

You’ll be provided with meals where you’re treated, although your family and friends will have to make their own arrangements. Some wards now have their own chefs, which means you may be able to choose what to eat and when. Talk to your hospital team to see if this is available where you are being treated.

It’s important to take notice of how you feel and any guidance from dietitians. Some ward food might not feel particularly appealing while you’re being treated, so check with your ward you or someone else can bring food in.

Tell the staff if you have particular requirements, like kosher, halal, vegetarian or gluten-free.

Managing visitors

Check with your hospital what their guidance is about people visiting you. If your hospital doesn’t have fixed visitor times, it’s worth planning for people to drop in at different points throughout the day.

This helps to break up your time and can make days pass quicker. It will also help to avoid situations when visitors turn up at the same time and you can’t spend quality time with anyone. 

Hospital parking

Travelling for treatment can be expensive, and the cost and availability of parking at hospital is something many people find to be a challenge.

Disappointingly, not all parking at hospitals is free, although many will offer discounted season tickets (valid for weeks or months). Check your hospital’s website for details, or speak to a member of your care team. For more about how to save on travel costs, check out travelling for less

Where next?

Updated February 2017, next review due February 2018.