Apr 07, 2020 9:00 AM

Physical distancing is challenging for everyone—and having a loved one in the hospital can make it even more difficult. New visitor policies help keep patients safe. But family members, caregivers, and friends may wonder how they can still provide physical and emotional support. Here are some suggestions.

  • Call the patient by phone or video.

    • Schedule a time. This lets the patient and family member or friend look forward to talking.
    • Ask about the patient’s schedule. They may need time during the day to rest or get treatments.
    • Find a video chat app that works for you. Some options are FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype. 
  • Send well wishes electronically. 

    This option may be best for patients who need to rest. They can read your messages when they have more energy and come back to them often.
    • Make a physical card and send pictures of it.
    • Send an e-card.
    • Text or email pictures of loved ones.
  • Provide a service to the patient’s home and/or family.

    • Offer to go to the grocery store.
    • Donate cleaning supplies to the family.
    • Remember to practice physical distancing when you deliver food or other supplies. Place items on the porch and the family can bring them in from there.
  • Enjoy a long-distance activity.

    • Set up a virtual movie night. Netflix Party is one app that lets friends and family watch a movie at the same time.
    • Play a game. Search for apps or online games you can play together.
    • Read a book together over the phone, or create a family book club where you can discuss the book over video chat.
  • Be kind to yourself.

    • It can be easy to feel guilty for not being there. Know you are doing the best you can at this time.
    • Try to find time for self-care.
    • If you are the patient’s primary caregiver, talk with your loved one’s social worker over the phone. They can help make sure the patient's needs and your needs are being met.

If you are a patient at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) and do not have the resources to connect with individuals outside the hospital, talk with your nurse. They may be able to provide options.

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