Lack of visitors has detrimental effect on patient recovery

New research by Royal Voluntary Service found that 40 per cent of patients receive no visitors at all on hospital wards, often contributing to delayed release and recovery.

The Royal Voluntary Service argues that volunteers on hospital wards can play a vital role with the many patients who don’t have visitors, after finding that the two fifths of patients without visitors, require additional support from the nursing team.

Lack of visitors was felt by nurses to have a detrimental effect on patients’ health and speed of recovery in a number of ways, including: patients less likely to be mobile (43 per cent); less likely to be stimulated through conversation (56 per cent); and less likely to follow medical advice. A considerable number, 37 per cent, were more likely to have a longer stay in hospital.

Furthermore, 56 per cent of nurses surveyed reported that a volunteer presence on ward was very important and that volunteers could help with patient care in a variety of ways, including: increasing patient satisfaction by providing vital non-medical support on wards (49 per cent); and improving patient nutrition and hydration levels by helping at mealtimes and during the day (50 per cent).

Sam Ward, director of Commissioned Services for Royal Voluntary Service, said: “With results showing two-fifths of patients may not see a visitor during their hospital stay, it is clear that more is needed to be done to support them. Volunteers offer a professional support service, encouraging mental stimulation, physical activity, and more that can play a significant role in both mental and physical recovery. It is vital that hospitals work together with volunteer service providers to make sure that patients across the country are able to access this support.”

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