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Blog: Organizing For Special Needs
Creating Sanctuary in Medical Crisis




Several years ago my then 12 year old daughter was hospitalized for a perforated appendix.
By the time we discovered what was wrong she was VERY sick, and ended up spending over a month in the hospital over a 3 month period. We were re-admitted 4x for complications which required surgical intervention.

How did I create any sense of structure, continuity, and safety?
As a woman who has worked in a hospital for over a decade and has a professional organizing business, I will share what I have found helpful.

You never really know how long your stay might be.

Take the time to personalize your space, and make it seem less medical, foreign, and frightening. Even an hour of your efforts to gather and place items will effect everyone's moral.

Photos:
These give health care providers conversation openers. They remind us of better times, and help others feel connected to us. They encourage others to share "their" stories with our ill loved ones.

Decorative Items:
Bring a bedspread or favorite throw. Drape the hospital chair to improve the look of the room. I brought a basket with tea, and my favorite red, Asian teapot. It gave me a purpose to make tea, and just sit with my daughter. Having my favorite cup helped me feel grounded. If you have a favorite pillow, of course, bring it.

Personal Items:
Even if they don't ask for their familiar things, it can be uplifting to have them. The soft slippers, a toiletry kit with the favorite face cream or electric shaver. When you are sick, one of the first things you accomplish on your journey back to health is self care. There were several times that I rubbed my daughters feet with her favorite lotion, and then painted her toenails for her. This filled the time with nurturing activity. A reason to provide loving touch during this time of upheaval is always needed.

Diversions:
Whether books, magazines, crossword puzzles, videos, or a handheld slot machine game, you never know when a simple diversion will be needed. The hours can really drag on when you are "confined". Place the items neatly stacked where they are visible, and a visitor might participate or open a conversation related to what they see. Someone who is ill needs to talk about something other than their illness, but it is easy for visitors to be at a loss for words.

Scents:
There are many unpleasant or unfamiliar scents in a hospital or nursing home. When someone is ill the chemicals or scents of items they usually favor can be noxious. Lightly scented and natural items are often welcome. Institutions often have dry and sterile air that can result in cracked lips and dry noses. My personal favorite remedy is an edible 100% natural "Heritage Rosewater Spray", that I found at my local health food store. It feels fabulous when gently misted on your face, and it creates a halo of light fragrance that quickly evaporates along with the moisture. Even my big, carpenter brother was compelled to repeatedly spray himself during our last family gathering. So, I would say the appeal can easily cross the gender barrier.

I have heard it said that recovery times are improved when patients have a view of trees, rather than rooftop machinery. We can't always control this choice, but with a little effort we can create an environment that is familiar but stimulating.

What a simple way to show our love, and make an unpleasant situation a little more bearable.

Lisa Alishio, COTA/L
Professional Organizer
Clarity Home Consulting

posted on: 12/19/2007 12:30:00 PM by Lisa Alishio
category: Special Populations


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Organizing For Special Needs


by Lisa Alishio

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About Lisa:

Lisa Alishio, COTA/L, is a professional organizer with a background in pediatric and adult occupational therapy. Her intention is to help people of all ages and abilities to "Live Well in their Home".

Lisa's Website:

clarityhomeconsulting.com




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