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24 June 2021

Top tips on how to support loved ones after injury

by Day One Trauma Support

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We asked people with experience of major traumatic injuries what practical things friends and family can do to help. Read our top tips if you’re supporting someone in hospital, or when they’re back home:

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What can I offer to take when visiting someone in hospital?

"In the early days and weeks there are a few things that make life easier: a phone charger, headphones for when the ward gets noisy, and a spare set of loose-fitting clothes."

"I could not have survived without a fan but don’t forget to put your name on it!"

"I always needed a pad and pen and lost them frequently so duplicates were handy. I never fancied chocolate but did appreciate refreshing sweets, drinks, and fruit."

"I’m not the best of sleepers - I found it very useful when someone brought me an eye mask and ear plugs."

"I loved my ‘litter grabbers’ - for when I dropped anything on the floor, or for using to help put my socks on!"

"Wipes, deodorant, oral care items etc were a god send as I was bed-bound."

"A TV or tablet brought from home can be helpful. In seven weeks I don’t think I watched anything, but I found the noise a comfort and a link to the outside world."

How can I be helpful visitor when someone has returned home?

“For someone who has been in hospital for a long time, it’s nice if someone can do a small shop for essentials before or after they return home, so that they have things like milk, bread etc as they settle back in.”

"My friends and family were amazing, for the 3 months I was in a wheelchair, I was never without visitors daily who brought meals and did whatever was needed. Support when a patient goes home is massive."

"I needed 24-hour care when I got home by my family but always appreciated ‘outsiders’ offering to shop, iron, cut the grass etc, anything to take the pressure off my daughter and I know she appreciated that too."

"I found it very therapeutic going outside. The cool air and sunlight was wonderful after many weeks inside. If someone has a wheelchair or mobility aids it can be nice to offer to take them outside."

"The most practical thing was a visit from someone. Feeling like a prisoner in my house was awful and took some getting used to. I lived for someone to come each day for their company – and of course the endless cream cakes and ‘cheer up food’."

How should I talk to someone who has experienced a major physical injury?

“There is no rule book, it's a judgement call and everyone is different. But by talking to people and seeing how they respond, we can judge how much to say or not say. Listening is the biggest part of supporting someone in recovery.”

“I was always very willing to talk about my accident, it helped to ‘normalise’ something that was most definitely not normal.”

“You could start by first asking someone if they are feeling comfortable, which will then hopefully lead you on to further conversations. Patients will let you know pretty quickly if they don’t want to talk about their injury.”

“Active listening is about really paying attention and taking on what 's going on beneath the surface and reading between the lines. It gives people a safe space to be heard with empathy and without judgement and can help them understand what they are going through, therefore helping them find a way through the problem.”

“It’s worth thinking about privacy – it’s unlikely someone will open up in a hospital ward where others are around, but they may share more about their feelings or worries in a private place. Consider this when you’re talking to them about how they feel.”

“It can help to talk to someone independent – my Day One Peer Supporter was a great help to me.”

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