Staying at the hospital: Advice for teens

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Being in the hospital does not have to mean no fun. Learn tips on how to make the most out of your stay.

Key points

  • If you are a teen in the hospital get to know and talk to other teens, they will have a better understanding about what you are feeling.
  • Get to know and talk to your health care team, ask them questions and participate in your own care.
  • Get to know what you can and cannot do in the hospital, find out about what activities are going on in the hospital and bring things from home that will help to keep you busy.

Stuck in the hospital?

Being in the hospital for any length of time is not something teens or anyone else would choose. But being in the hospital does not have to mean no fun.

Here are some tips to make the most out of your stay and some other things you should think about.

Ask questions and talk to people

Other patients

Other teens in hospital probably feel about the same as you do. Having someone your own age to talk to can help. You might be surprised how easy it can be to make friends at the hospital. Sharing your feelings with someone who knows what it is like to stay at the hospital can also help.

What or what not to tell others

Sometimes teenagers worry about being different and how much information to share with friends. You should think about what you do and do not want to tell others. Hospital staff can help with this. Ask to speak to your child life specialist, social worker or nurse.

The doctors and nurses

Get to know your health care team and do not be afraid to ask them questions. These people include your doctors or nurses, your child life specialist or your social worker.

Talk to your doctors or nurses about participating in your own care. Find out what you can do. Some hospitals have libraries and other resources you can use to learn about your condition and treatment. Most people who get active in their own care feel better about themselves for doing it.

Talk to your child life specialist or social worker about keeping busy and staying mentally positive about being in the hospital. Remember, it is part of their job to help you in this way.

Find out what you can and cannot do in the hospital

Many hospitals have rules about using phones and other electronics. You should find out when and where you can use these things.

Things to do

  • Find out what activities are going on in the hospital. Some hospitals put on plays and have movie nights. There may also be a lounge or hang out area just for teens. Often, these rooms will have computers with Internet and computer games and they are great places to meet other teens.
  • Find out what is going on outside the hospital. Keep in touch with family and friends. Let them know how you are doing and stay current with what is going on in their lives. Just because you are in the hospital does not mean you have to lose touch with people you care about. Let them know when they can come for a visit or when the best time to phone is.
  • Find out what food choices you have. You might be surprised what you can get inside the hospital if you ask. It might also be okay to eat things from outside the hospital. If so, ask friends and family to bring your favourite foods from home or from a restaurant.
  • Do not fall behind in school. Bring homework or have it brought to you. Many hospitals have teachers to help you with school work. There may also be computers you can use to research and write assignments.
  • Remember to keep your things in a safe place. Lock up anything you do not want to lose.
  • Keep busy. Bring fun things from home that will help you enjoy your time. Bring your own books, magazines, music, portable video games, journal, movies, puzzles or anything else you are interested in.
  • Bring things that make you feel comfortable such as a teddy bear, pillow, blanket and pictures from home. Instead of wearing hospital gowns all the time, wear your own pyjamas.
  • Your hospital may also have a library of books, movies and games you can access. Find out about this.
Last updated: March 4th 2010