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Practical tips when looking after someone who needs to go to hospital

What's on your mind?

Every now and then accidents happen which mean that we need to head to hospital for some help. When we are in the thick of it and concentrating on an injury or illness, the practicalities of going to hospital can be forgotten or, when realised, quite stressful. Therefore, have a read below of my four top tips for when you head to the hospital:

  1. Do you know where your local A&E is?

Not all hospitals have an A&E so it is important to know your local hospital and whether they have an Accident and Emergency Department should you need it.

The easiest way to check this is to go on the NHS website: and type in your post code to see the hospitals closest to you.

If you are taking a child to A&E make sure you know whether your local hospital has a children’s A&E. Not all hospital A&E’s cater for children so it is worth knowing in advance whether your local one does.

When you search for your local hospital using the NHS link, they will come up with a label underneath saying ages of casualties they will take.

2. Do you know how you can get to your local hospital?

In many cases, it makes more sense to make your own way to A&E rather than asking and waiting for an ambulance. If this is the case with your accident, would you know how to get there easily?

  • If you were to take public transport, what route would you take?
  • If you had to travel on a weekend or in the evening/ or early morning would your journey change?
  • If you were to drive to the hospital do you know where you would park?
  • If you drive do you know how you would pay for the car park? (Do they need cash? Etc)    

3. Do you have things to keep you entertained?

When you go to A&E you are generally triaged fairly quickly. However, depending on the severity of your injury, you may have to wait a few hours to have your injury seen to. Therefore, before you go it is worth thinking about what you would take with you in an emergency to keep you entertained.

Do you read magazines or a kindle? Do you need headphones so you can listen to music? Do you store films on your phone, laptop or tablet? Do you have a bottle of water you can take with you? Do you have snacks?

If you need to take a child to hospital what is worth taking with you to look after them? Do you need their nappy bag? Any toys? Milk? Favourite teddy?

I am not suggesting to always have a bag ready by the door ‘just in case’, but just have in your mind a short list of things you would bring with you if you needed to go to hospital quickly.

*Note – before eating food or drink make sure you check with triage whether you are able to eat or drink before treatment as this can sometimes slow down the help you get.  

4. Do you know the Covid restrictions in place at your local hospital?

Whilst Covid restrictions have eased across England, there are still a number of rules we need to follow when entering a hospital to protect ourselves and the most vulnerable and sick who are likely to be in hospital. All NHS trusts have slightly different rules so it is important to look up your own local hospital and find out any rules and regulations you need to follow to go there.

Below are the main covid rules from my local hospital trust at the time of writing, which are likely to be the same at your hospital:

  • All staff, patients and visitors must wear a surgical facemask when they are in our hospitals. 
  • Clean hands with the alcohol gel provided when entering and leaving the hospital and the ward
  • Maintain social distancing as much as possible. This means coming to hospital alone if you can. If you need someone to help you understand what is happening to you, you may bring one other person. If you are a parent bringing a child to hospital, you must only bring the child who needs care.  
  • Do not come to the hospital if you feel unwell or have any respiratory or flu like symptoms, high temperature or loss of taste and/or smell, someone in your household is isolating due to suspected COVID or you have been in contact with someone else who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID

I am a firm believer in thinking up logistical scenarios you may have to deal with so you feel less panicked if they do arise and these four tips will hopefully make you feel more in control if an accident or incident were to happen.

In all my courses; Emergency First Aid at Work, First Aid for Mental Health, Family First Aid, we talk about your own personal real life situations so you can think about the logistical challenges you may face should you need to deal with an incident. If you would like to join one of my bookable first aid courses or discuss organising a private course please get in touch, I would love to help.  

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