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.

Take the essentials

Here are some suggestions from other young people to make your time in hospital more comfortable and combat any boredom:

  • 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

Keep 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.”

Stay 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 look 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

Eat well

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. 

Take notice of how you feel and follow advice 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.

See people on your terms

Check with your hospital how visiting works. If there are no fixed visitor times, planning for people to drop in at different points throughout the day can break up your time and can make days pass quicker. It will also help to avoid visitors turning up at the same time and not being able to spend quality time with anyone. 

There will no doubt be days when you feel too tired to see people, or just can't deal. That's totally fine - it needs to be on your terms. Ask friends and family to text before they come so you can manage who comes and when.

Check parking costs

The cost and availability of parking at hospital can be a challenge for lots of people.

Disappointingly, not all parking at hospitals is free, although many will offer discounted season tickets. 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 March 2018, next review due 2019.