If you are a relative or friend
Family and friends play an important role in helping people get through treatment. Most hospitals are flexible about visiting, but there may be some restrictions to the number of visitors.
When you arrive, speak with the nurse looking after your relative or friend before going into the room.
You’ll have to take certain precautions to make sure you don’t take in any infections. If you’re unsure about anything, ask the nurses or doctors. Here are some things you need to know:
Don’t visit if you’re unwell, even if you only have a minor cold or infection.
Don’t allow children who aren’t well or have been in touch with other children with an infection (such as chickenpox) to visit. Most units allow children to visit, but it’s best to check with the hospital staff.
Always follow any hospital instructions – for example, washing and drying your hands thoroughly before going into the person’s room.
Ask the nursing staff for advice before you bring in food. Some gifts such as flowers may not be allowed for infection-control reasons.
You can still kiss, hug or hold your friend or relative’s hand and give comfort and support by being there. However, it’s important to follow the recommended precautions.
Be prepared that there will be times when your relative or friend won’t look or feel well. You don’t have to worry about keeping them entertained. It’s often enough just to sit with them.
They may not be able to cope with many visitors or with long visits. It can help if one person coordinates visiting so that it’s spread out. Sometimes they may not feel like seeing anyone because they’re just too tired. Don’t be upset or take it personally if you’re asked to miss a visit. If you can’t visit, you can phone or send a card.
If you’re worried about anything, you can always talk to the doctors and nurses on the unit or ward.
You may find our information about being there for someone with cancer helpful.