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Feelings and fears

Feeling better about your time in hospital

Coming to hospital can feel scary and unfamiliar. At Evelina London, we’ll do our best to help you feel at home. 

Here are some top tips to help you conquer your fears and feel good about your time in hospital.

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 Missing home

Bring along some photos of friends and family. Put these up around you to cheer you up when you’re feeling down.

Here are some tips from our patients about what to do if you feel sad in hospital:

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What to do if you feel lonely or sad in hospital – video transcript

If you’re feeling a bit down and upset there are always the nurses there to put a smile on your face and make you happy and make you feel at home.

You can just sit down and say to the nurse 'I’m a bit scared about this' or 'I’m worried about that' and I think everyone in the hospital is quite understanding.

I can always talk to the nurses, I can talk to the play specialists and I can talk to the other patients on dialysis.

Keep a positive outlook on being in hospital and you know, keep your chin up because if you don’t it’s going to last much longer than it should.

Well you can tell a nurse and they can bring a play specialist along and they’ll come and play games with you and you can make things and that will really lift your mood.

Why not ask your family or friends to write to you? You could read these messages while you are in hospital to let you know that people are thinking of you.

Top tip: ask a friend to draw you a funny picture or cartoon. Put it by your bed and have a chuckle when you look at it!

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Feeling bored

Being in hospital doesn’t have to be boring. There’s plenty to do at Evelina London – read the entertainment section for information about our cinema, radio station and WiFi.

Here are a few tips from our patients about what to do for fun in hospital:

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Things to do – video transcript

There’s a table tennis table which is usually operated by me because I love table tennis, there’s a piano, there’s a big slide downstairs if you’re allowed to go that far.

There’s a TV you can get movies, there’s movies in the cupboards.

There’s a MediCinema where they show decent movies.

There’s Wiis and Xbox.

Then there’s the hospital school.

You learn but you have fun at the same time, it’s not like a normal school.

There’s also scouts on some days downstairs in the atrium.

There’s like, a WHSmith and different shops like M&S; and there’s a canteen and stuff.

There’s a few coffee shops, there’s a nice place to sit down with friends and family.

You get to do a lot of things here, you can do colouring, a lot of art things. Things you really enjoy doing.

Bring along your favourite books and games from home to play with visitors or new friends on your ward. You could also catch up on school work, or visit the hospital school.

Top tip: ask your friends and family to bring a new book or game along when they visit. Then you’ll never run out of things to do.

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Feeling lonely

You may miss your friends from home but at Evelina London there are lots of other young people just like you. Ask your nurse to introduce you to other people your age or let you know if there’s a group of young people with the same condition as you who get together regularly. 

Listen to our patients' tips on making friends in Evelina London:

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Making friends – video transcript

It’s really easy to make friends in hospital because there are a lot of people going through the same things you are.

Just share your experiences, and see if you can fit in.

Be yourself, be kind to people, smile.

Try and make friends with somebody nearby, somebody in the next bed, somebody in the same bay as you because they might not be the same age as you. I’ve been here a while and I’ve seen loads of kids that are different ages to me, younger than me, older than me, but I think I’ve made quite good friends with most of them.

Also there’s a school so you can meet lots of children your age who are going through the same thing and they can help you and make you feel better.

There are also lots of ways to keep in touch with friends from home – by phone, Skype, social media and much more. Check visiting times with your nurse and let friends and family know when they can come in to see you.

Top tip: ask someone on your ward to join you in a two-player computer or board game – a great way to get to know them better.

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Talking to the doctors and nurses

All the doctors and nurses at Evelina London are specially trained to care for young people.

Never be afraid to ask or say that you don’t understand. Some medical words are tricky but the doctor or nurse can explain it in a different way, draw a picture or show you some more information in a leaflet or on a computer.

Some advice from patients on what to do if you feel confused or don't understand something:

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What to do if you don't understand something – video transcript

If you get told something you don’t understand just feel free to ask the doctors or the nurses and they’ll go through it with you so that you can understand what’s going on and you’re not worried about what’s happening.

The play specialists do take you and have a little chat with you about the treatment or the disease that you have and explain it to you more clearly.

Don’t be afraid to ask, just ask someone and they can always tell you.

Just say it to them literally in that moment; just tell them, I don’t understand this.

Because I think the one thing doctors and nurses I’ve met are pretty good at is explaining things that young people don’t understand.

Take your time to think about what you have been told. You can let your ward nurse know if you have questions after the doctor has come round.  The nurse will be able to help you or ask the doctor to come back.

Top tip: keep a notepad and pen handy. Jot down any questions you think of, so that you don’t forget them when you see the doctor.

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Nervous about treatment

If you’re afraid of needles, worried about having a scan or scared of taking medicine, let your doctor or nurse know. Lots of people feel just like you.

Our play specialists are great at helping you to conquer your fears and understand what will happen during your treatment. They can also think of lots of fun things to do to help take your mind off things.

If you’re worried about taking your medicine, have a chat with your nurse or pharmacist. They will be able to tell you if you can eat or drink with your medicine and may be able to get you a glass of your favourite drink to take the taste away.

Top tip: have your favourite book handy or line up your favourite tune on your MP3 player to help take your mind off things.

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Struggling to sleep

The routine in hospital may be a bit different to home. Getting into a bedtime routine can help you feel more calm and settled and help you sleep better.

Try to get ready for bed at the same time each evening. Have a wash, change into your pyjamas, brush your teeth and settle down with a good book. Try not to watch TV or computer games just before you go to sleep as they can keep your brain whirring.

Top tip: we try to keep the wards as quiet as possible at night but you may find earplugs and an eye mask help you to drop off to sleep.

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It all feels strange

You may find that lots of things in hospital are a bit different to home – strange noises and smells, different food and unfamiliar faces. It’s very normal to find hospital a bit strange and to feel scared or upset.

Try talking to your parents or carers about how you feel when they visit.  You can also talk to your nurse or doctor. We may be able to help you meet other young people like you to talk to about how you feel.

You can also bring some of your favourite things in from home, like:

  • an MP3 player with your favourite songs on
  • a few of your favourite snacks.

Top tip: find out as much as you can about Evelina London before you come. Check out all the information on this website and ask other people you know what it’s like, so that it feels more familiar when you get here.

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 The super tip

Jubril gives you his ultimate tip for making yourself feel better about being in hospital:

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The SUPER tip – video transcript

There’s a few top tips to surviving in hospital.

Number one, make friends with all the nurses and don’t cheese any of them off.

Because remember they make your bed, they’re in charge of your medicines and if you need anything they’re the ones you have to ask!


©  Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust.
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