Helping patients to keep their cool

It seems like summer is finally here; temperatures have soared in the last few days and forecasts suggest they could reach the 30s again in parts of our region by the weekend.

Interim Deputy Chief Nurse, Wendy Page

But while those at home can take steps to keep their cool, hospital inpatients don’t have quite as many options.

Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust’s Interim Deputy Chief Nurse, Wendy Page, is now offering some advice for patients in hospital during periods of hot weather and those who care for them:

“As nurses ourselves, we know how warm some of our wards and departments can be at times. Due to the very nature of our estate, particularly the design of the Hull Royal Infirmary tower block, it’s not easy to keep them cool at any time of year.

“We regularly offer wellbeing advice to our staff and suggest how to keep cool, but we appreciate our patients who are sharing the ward environment are also experiencing the same heat.

“Staff will of course do whatever they can to create a comfortable environment, making sure cold water is available and ventilating the wards, for example, but there are some other small things which patients themselves can do, or which loved ones can help with, which could make a difference too.”

Where possible, Wendy advises patients to think about the food on offer:

“People don’t always want hot or heavy meals when it’s warm, so perhaps think about choosing a lighter meal from our ward menus, perhaps a salad, yogurt for breakfast or something with fruit, as the extra water content will help to keep hydration levels up.

“Staff should make water regularly available to patients on our wards, especially when temperatures are high, but if you can’t see or don’t have any, don’t be afraid to ask.

“Something as simple as laying on top of the bed sheets, rather than under them, can also make a big difference, so patients should also ask for help to do this if it’s needed or if it would help you to stay cooler.”

Wendy says there are several ways in which relatives and loved ones can help too:

“It’s worth having a chat with nursing staff when you visit, as depending on the nature of your loved one’s illness, they may be able to safely leave the ward with you and spend some time outside in the shade or enjoying the breeze. Castle Hill has lots of green and outdoor space to enjoy, but there are some really lovely, self contained garden areas at Hull Royal Infirmary too.

“It might also be that, if your loved one struggles to drink a lot of water or finds it boring, that you can bring fruit cordials to encourage them to drink more fluids, but again check with the nursing team that this is okay first.

“Bringing in cooler clothing for them, such as a short sleeved nightgown, pyjamas or T-shirt and shorts, maybe made of a cooler fabric such as cotton, could also help, and if your loved one’s mobility is limited, sponging their head, face, neck and arms with cool water could make a real difference.”

In line with Government requirements, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust has its own Heatwave Plan which describes the actions it will take to maintain safe levels of service in the event of a heatwave.

For more tips on staying safe at home in hot weather, visit the website: