Temporary disability


I am currently dealing with a matter of complex surgery that was not as successful as was originally hoped, which has then meant that the person has had to stay for longer in hospital than they had originally anticipated.


The surgery has impacted significantly on their mobility, which over time should improve, but in the short term is very poor. Because this is not a long-term issue, the support that would be available to somebody with ongoing problems is not the same.


This person has been in hospital for an extended period of time, has seen the other patients on the ward come and go. Staying in hospital is very disruptive, as there are people around across the 24-hour period and sleep can be very disrupted at times. The food in hospital is designed to be nutritionally balanced, but is nevertheless institutional food that is designed for an “average” taste palate and not necessarily what someone would choose to eat.


Being in hospital for an extended period mean spending time often with the same members of staff, and although caring, are not necessarily people you would choose to spend time with. It can also mean being in the same clothes, particularly if it’s relevant to wear pyjamas, rather than outdoor clothes. Although the can often be things to watch on the ward, this can be an invasion of someone else’s privacy and view out of the window doesn’t change much. This leads to institutionalisation.


What is important is breaking up the monotony, as well as providing support for that person, he was going through difficult and painful surgery. I have brought in coffee and cake from a coffee shop, in order to give this person something “normal” that we all take for granted, but becomes an extra treat when they haven’t been able to get there themselves. And if possible, and they are allowed to leave the hospital for a few hours, it will greatly enhance their well-being to do so do something different, such as go for lunch or dinner or go to the cinema or theatre before returning to the ward and the drug and treatment regime can continue.


Because this temporary health status and admission into hospital is short lived, there is limited help and support for this person to manage the current situation. They are reliant on the care and support the family and friends to bring them in things or take them out for a few precious hours. The key thing that I have noted is the importance of kindness and compassion and how little this costs and yet how important it is.


To anyone experiencing temporary frailty or illness I wish them a speedy recovery.