Our Experience Visiting Elderly Patients at a London Hospital Over Christmas
Loneliness can be a real problem, in particular if you are unwell and in hospital. Elderly patients in hospitals are in great need of love and companionship and can be neglected, especially during the festive period of Christmas.
On Christmas morning a group of volunteers from various backgrounds visited the Older People’s Ward at Northwick Park Hospital. Having visited the hospital for the past 4 years, we have seen how lonely Christmas can be for patients who are too frail to go home, or have nobody to visit them. Loneliness can really affect them at this time of year, which is traditionally spent with family and loved ones.
At the Northwick Park Hospital gifts, generously donated by the public, were presented to more than 200 patients across 7 wards: Herrick, Hardy, Haldane, Fielding, Dowland, Dickens, and Evelyn. The success of the event was due to the collective efforts of the London Borough of Brent individuals. Costa, M&S, and Subway staff at Northwick Park Hospital shared their kindness and support by donating cakes and snacks to the event; the Preston Manor School students provided handmade Christmas cards for the patients, and the 4th Kenton Scouts Hall provided a venue and helped out with gift wrapping. The supportive and welcoming approach of the NHS staff at Northwick Park Hospital and Moorfields Eye Hospital Pharmacists for this initiative and the hard work they put in every day, Christmas or not, to provide care for all patients should not go unmentioned.
The day was a huge success in bringing happiness to staff, patients, and their relatives. One of the patients expressed her excitement by saying: “This is the best surprise I have had in many years” while another, with tears in her eyes, stated: “this was the first card I have received this year for Christmas”. A birthday song was sung for another elderly patient, bringing a smile to her and her son’s face. Volunteers covered the wards for three hours and their efforts felt rewarded when one of the patients expressed, “you must have been blessed to have the opportunity to do this”.
It can feel compelling to travel far to reach out to those in need. However, it’s important to remember that we have people at our very doorsteps in desperate need of love and attention. Let’s make it our new year’s resolution to help those less fortunate than us in our local communities. It could be doing the shopping for our elderly in our neighborhoods, visiting those in poor health in our local hospitals, or acting as a translator for a new migrant. However small these acts may seem, they remain significant and important steps needed to bring us closer to building a loving community, regardless of faith, ethnicity, or background.