The holidays can be tough for a lot of people. So imagine what it’s like when you’re in the hospital or a skilled nursing/rehab facility at this festive time. Patients would probably like to be anywhere else. We asked some nurses for tips on what other nurses can do to help cheer up their patients. They gave us some great answers…

“I am a geriatric nursing assistant, and we normally make sure that our patients are involved in the activities provided by the activities department. They would have musicians and comedy performers who would put on great shows. The worst for the resident or patient is after hours when there wasn’t anything going on. That’s when we just spend a little extra time with them—let them talk about their memories of holidays and family. We would put up decorations in their rooms. The most important thing to remember is they are alone, and try to shower them with as much kindness as possible.”
—Karen Gum, GNA

“Wear festive things: scrub tops, red/green beads, reindeer antlers, or elf and Santa hats.”
—Connie O’Malley, RN

“Keep them busy so that they don’t dwell on it.”
—Jennifer Lowe, NP

“I’m not a nurse, but I’ve worked in healthcare for 25 years. Decorate their rooms with a small tree and make sure it has lights. Cute Christmas PJs and socks (the non-slip kind), candy and treats to eat and share with the staff. Hand-held or card games, a cute throw for their beds are always fun. Anything shiny and bright—especially unique stuff that staff will gush over when they come in the room. Patients love things that play music. Decorate their doors with wrapping paper and a blow. Have someone come in to do their nails and hair if the service isn’t available at the facility. They love pretty Christmas sweaters and jewelry. And those necklaces with little Christmas bulbs that light up—and can be found at the dollar store—are a big hit!”
—Kim Reynolds

“The nurses in our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit always go above and beyond, but during this time of year, we go even further to ensure we keep up the holiday spirit. We donate essential items and toys to the families in the greatest need, sing songs with the children, and provide fun activities through our Child Life program.”
—Elizabeth Southard, RN, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital

“I try to joke with the patient and keep it cheerful and positive if appropriate for the situation. If they’re really down, I like to offer a hug and any other distraction I can offer.”—Crystal Adams, BSN, RN, IU Health West Hospital

“I think this pertains to every day, but especially during the holidays—Stay truthful and compassionate. Let them know you are not there to judge them, but you are there if they need to talk. The truth can be painful, but helps us to help them.”
—Theresa Castro, LPN, Detox Nurse at Solutions Recovery Treatment Center

“I ask the patient has made a Christmas wish. Sometimes they tell me the wish and sometimes they don’t. When family members bring in treats, I make sure they’re set up to enjoy them.”
—Cheryl Johnson, RN, IU Health West Hospital

“I sit outside with the clients after evening medication and tell them stories of the ridiculous Christmas gifts I would get from my mother each year. We would each cheese puffs; clients would share their funny stories, and we’d laugh all night until our faces hurt.”
—Donna Robinson-McWilliams, LPN, Staff Nurse at River Oaks Treatment Center

Michele Wojciechowski

Michele Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer and author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box.

Latest posts by Michele Wojciechowski (see all)

More Nursing News

  • Between work, fewer daylight hours, and the fast-approaching holiday season, it’s easy to experience burnout this time of year. If you’re feeling resentful, unfulfilled, exhausted, or bored of your job, these are your body’s warning signs that it’s time to make some changes—fast! Check out the following tips to reduce…

  • Welcome to the holiday season—a time for treats in the break room, holiday parties, cookie exchanges, and festive family meals. Sounds fun, but too often all this merriment prevents weight loss and leads to weight gain. Even worse, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, most people NEVER…

  • Working on a holiday can be tough, but there are ways to make it not only tolerable, but fun. We asked some nurses who work on the holidays for tips on how to make the time special and enjoyable. Here’s what they had to say: “Sometimes, involving patients can be…

  • “What are you doing for Thanksgiving and Christmas this year?” Chances are, if you work in a hospital, the answer is, “Working.” Working holidays is not ideal, but we all know it is part of the job. I remember when I found out I had to work my first Christmas…

2018 Is the Year to Advance Your Nursing Career

Access the Nursing Career Resource Center to explore nursing conferences, the latest jobs, and career podcasts to advance your career in 2018.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This