Visitors often wish to bring loved ones a gift to brighten up difficult time spent in the hospital. Patients in the psychiatric ward enjoy receiving gifts as well of course, but it is important to know there are a number of strict rules uncommon to other wards that must be followed lest your gift be rejected by protective staff members. The rules are not in place to be discriminatory or mean, the rules are in place for the safety of all patients and staff.

It is generally best to contact the ward ahead of time to check what their specific guidelines might be but I will endevour to give an idea of what to expect. 

Most important to consider are any items that are sharp and could be used to cut, scrape, scratch or otherwise hurt someone. Also be careful of items that could be used for constriction like long scarves or lanyards. Anything that could be used to start a fire or cause burns would also be inappropriate.

Even if your loved one doesn’t have a problem with substance abuse alcohol or drugs are prohibited. Perscription medications as well as vitimin and mineral supplements are provided to the patients by staff on a strict schedule. This is to protect patients from potentially exacerbating symptoms with unsupervised and unrecorded substances and to encourage routine.

Other items to be avoided of the not-so-obvious variety, include alcohol-containing items like mouthwash and vanilla. Solvents, aerosol cans, and certian glues must also be avoided as they have the potential for abuse.

 Although flowers are a common gift for hospital patients avoid bringing flowers in glass containers as the glass might be broken into sharp, harmful shards. Glass bottles and mirrors are also potentially broken so they should be avoided as well. 

Some items that might be appreciated but held by the desk staff for supervised use are; nail polish and remover, acrylic or water colour paint, or other craft projects like knitting or crochet.

Items that are greatly appreciated are homemade baking or meals as hospital food is generally quite shitty to put it politely. Be sure to clearly mark it as anything needing refrigeration is generally stored communally. I’ve seen grown men come to blows over homemade spaghetti and screaming matches over salad, for real, so mark those containers well!😉

Patients also appreciate the creature comforts of home such as cozy blankets, slippers, travel sized lotions and other favoured toiletries. Being in the hospital can feel very lonely and scary so cute and cuddly stuffed animal are also generally appreciated no matter the patients age🐻🐰🐵

Something common to many psychiatric wards is a ban on any electronic device that can take photos📲 This is to put all patients at ease about privacy and to ensure the ward is a low-stimuli, restful place. Given this rule means no fiddling with smart phones and tablets for hours on end patients welcome quiet entertainment like; magazines, books, crosswords, word searches, suduko, logic puzzles, actual puzzles and colouring books. Mp3 players, the low-tech ones that do nothing more than play music, are usually allowed so loading one up with a loved ones favourite tunes, stories, or stand-up comedy will be greatly appreciated. 
If you have other suggestions for psychiatric-ward-appropriate gifts I would love to hear them. Please comment with your thoughts and ideas.

K

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