I have spent a lot of time over the last couple of years in hospital, often my stays (90%) have been in the public hospitals as a private patient and while you don't always get a single/private room due to these being given on an availability or clinical needs basis, it often means you are needing to share a room with other people.
There are two types of shared rooms in a hospital, there is twin share meaning there is one other person in your room or their is a 4 share room meaning you are sharing a room with 3 other people whom should be of the same sex as you.
I just got home from a 12 day stay in hospital and it reminded me of this post I started writing earlier in the year after having had spent 5 weeks in RPA and it was a horrible time mostly because I feel that others don't quite know or understand the etiquette that should be practiced when sharing a space with others... mostly it comes down to being respectful, but I will share some etiquette that should be followed (and if you have your own feel free to comment below).
Hospital etiquette when sharing a room in a public hospital
#1. It is not the time or place to LEARN how to play the ukulele
This legit happened, I was in RPA sharing a room with someone for the entire 5 week stay and in around week 2 she purchased a used ukulele downstairs at the flea market and decided that now was the perfect time to learn how to play. This involved trying to tune it, playing youtube videos over and over and over and attempting (I use that word lightly) to play.
It not only was annoying, but I don't think this is the place for it when you're in a hospital which is a place of rest to be playing or learning an instrument.
#2. Use headphones
I know that when some people are in the comfort of their own home that they might like to play their music or movies from their laptop at a loud volume, that you shouldn't do the same in hospital.
By all means bring your laptop to listen to music or watch movies to entertain yourself, I know I do, But I ALWAYS wear my headphones as to not disrupt or be disrepectful to others in my room.
#3. Rest periods mean rest periods
This means that your visitors should be mindful of the times and leave for the hour or two hour break. It also means this is not the perfect time to watch your TV loudly or have conversations on your mobile.
While you yourself might not be tired, your room-mates might be feeling exhausted from having had visitors themselves, or they might be wanting to use the time to rest and recoup with a nap before the evening.
But the rest period is also a chance that the Nurses or Doctors can do dressing changes or consults without interrupting your visitors and give you some privacy.
This one should be a given, but not everyone might be as social as you or might just be wanting some privacy. If a patient has their curtains fully closed it might mean that they want some privacy and are not wanting to chat, but it could also mean that want their own space.
When I was in RPA earlier in the year, I felt my personality clashed with my room-mate and she just couldn't understand no matter how many times I or the nurses told her that I wanted my privacy. Yet she would continually walk in through my curtains and sit on my bed and talk to me. Or this one time she picked up my hand and tried doing a palm reading and I asked her to stop and go away but she didn't understand boundaries.
It also is important to be mindful that when a doctor is visiting a patient (as hard as it is) to not eavesdrop on their converstation and if you are please do not talk over the doctors and interrupt the conversation with your opinion. I was told I had thyroid cancer during that hospital admission and I was so upset from the news and my room-mate was talking over the doctor telling me "stop crying, get over it and her life is so much worse than mine" (no joke that was what she said). Thankfully my doctor spoke back and asked her to mind her own business and that I had every right to be upset.
It is important to remember that others value their privacy.
#5. Being in hospital isn't the time for a get-together
I know it isn't a given rule that you shouldn't have 10 people visiting at the same time that it should only be 3 at a time, remembering that those whom you're sharing a room with might be having visitors as well and if there is say 30+ people in the room it can become rather noisy and crowded and disrupting.
I know when my whole family (there is 10 of us) come and visit I walked (or was pushed in a wheelchair) to a more private part of the hospital where there were lounges and a place to sit. We even sat outside in the courtyard to talk and catch up, as I didn't want to disturb my room-mates as I know how annoying it is when someone has 10 visitors at once.
#6. Try not to be so negative
It has been spoken about a lot (and I did a research paper on this at uni when I was studying Nursing) that negativity can be rather toxic on your body and those around you. If you are someone that is constantly negative and wallows in self pity and enjoys throwing a pity party, this can soon become toxic and make those around you feeling down as well.
They say positivity is contagious, and I know when I am around negative people I feel so much worse as I am a bright and bubbly person and I am someone who will always see the positive side to things. I live by the mantra (thanks to my ever so wise dad) that "No matter what happens today the sun will always come up tomorrow".
#7. Do not talk about others behind their backs
This happened when I was in a local hospital earlier in the year, I went to the toilet and this guy and a girl I shared a room with (who were truly horrible people) thought that I had left the room completely and that it was the perfect time to gossip about me. (Ironically it was the same room and same bed that I had just been in the last 12 days)
I heard one (the guy) say to the lady "so what is her issue other than being fat. Gees has no one told her she needs to lose weight".
I walked as quickly out of the toilet as you can when you're wheeling the drip pole, and I lost it. I don't normally lose it but these people had it coming! I told them how dare they think it was okay to be so judgemental when they not only didn't know me or my story but to think it is okay to gossip about someone so loudly when they are in the room.
They replied "we will just wait till she leaves to continue gossiping". I ended up walking to the nurses station crying asking to be moved either to a new bed/room or to the private hospital as I shouldn't have to put up with that shit. Besides I was in there for pancreatitis and stress makes it even worse.
While this is just a short list of etiquette practices that should be followed when staying in hospital and sharing a room, it is important to remember to treat others as though you would like to be treated and it should just be common courtesy to be mindful of your surroundings and respectful of other's right to quiet and privacy.
If you have had a bad experience when sharing a room, feel free to comment below.