Our desire is for pastoral care to happen at the most relational level possible. This includes hospital visits. Many times, it's best for a group leader or a group member to visit someone in the hospital because a relationship may have already been established with that person. We realize that not everyone has had the opportunity to make a hospital visit before, so, here are some best practices to read over before making your first hospital visit.
Things to Do:
Knock softly on the door introducing yourself. Wait for a reply before entering.
Smile with assurance—Jesus is entering with you.
Greet the person and introduce yourself to those in the room you don’t know.
Stand comfortably near the bed without hovering.
Ask direct, open-ended questions without being graphic.
Be attentive to both verbal and non-verbal communication.
How to offer non-verbal attention:
Face the person.
Maintain eye contact.
Offer facial expressions which convey calm assurance.
Offer a tone of voice which conveys interest and support.
How to listen effectively:
Gather information: “Tell me more about that .…” The thinking level.
Summarizing: Concisely recap the main themes and feelings expressed.
Put yourself in their position. Imagine how you would think and feel.
Give the person as much room as possible to open up.
Assure them of the Lord’s desire and willingness to heal them.
Touch them when you pray for them. Jesus always touched people.
If unsure, ask them how they desire you to pray for them specifically.
Assure them others are praying, and that you will check on them again.
Wash your hands well before you leave the hospital.
Things Not to Do
Don’t sit on the bed.
Don’t touch the arm with the I.V.
Don’t stay more than 10-15 minutes.
Don’t avoid the obvious—people want to talk about what is going on.
Don’t be nervous. How would you feel if you were them?
Don’t talk about a person you knew who died of what they have.