Everyone thinks about children in hospital. There are colourful surroundings, play specialists, schools, charities, toys, parents and everyone will make an effort to be fun and playful around children. A child can always play – with anything. They hopefully are a lot less aware as to what is happening, and the implications of being in hospital and the impact an illness may have on their lives. This is wonderful, and how it should be..
But what about adults?
There are no colourful surroundings. You enter functional spaces easy to clean, often with little on the walls – or possibly if there are images on the wall they may be related to illness such as images of bed sores. There are no things to interact with and do, unlike children and their toys. Few can focus on reading even if organised enough to bring in a book – and most of us do not plan to end up in hospital. If there is TV you probably have to pay for it which can get costly if in hospital for a while – and honestly how does daytime TV make you feel? There are rarely social spaces for adults… While many of us have smartphones or computers there is only so much you may want to do. Options are truly limited and it’s not surprising many adults feel bored in hospital.
Put an adult in a blank room with nothing to interact with and their minds will start to wander. While we may be able to start thinking of interesting or fun things, for most of us in hospital our minds are most likely to run into what ifs, and the uncertainty and worry of being diagnosed with illness. We suffer from the burden of our awareness, and have lost the ability to play..
We need excitement to counteract the mundane. We need resources that are suitably challenging and sophisticated for adults. This needs to be done with suitable intelligence and respect to avoid being patronising. We need to go beyond word-searches and crosswords. We need imagination to think together what can be done to help adults in hospitals escape from debilitating boredom…
What do we need to feel alive?