Boredom in long-term patients!

by Mbshil Mbshil Member

Specializes in Trauma/Ortho/Neuro. Has 4 years experience.

We have a patient on our floor that has been there for over four months. He was admitted with a closed head injury , and as of now is not ready for discharge and there is no funding in place to transfer him to a rehab facility. he is getting increasingly agitated and of course bored, becuase we have barely anything for him to do. he has a sitter all the time, and besides playing cards he just wanders the hallways.At times he is so exhausted , and his feet are swollen, but he just does not sleep.He constantly comes to the nursing station, asking for his "pain pill". it is getting annoying to the nurses, not only the one that has him as a patient, we all are getting "tired' of him. Anybody have any suggestions?


mamamerlee, LPN

Specializes in home health, dialysis, others. Has 35 years experience. 949 Posts

Can he read? Play video games? Can you get some volunteers involved? Have you asked him if there is something he'd like to do within the confines of his treatment? He is experiencing cabin fever, and he needs some distractions. Is it possible that his family can get permission to take him for a short ride, to a movie or sports activity. What does he still enjoy? Can he tell time??? Does he have/want a watch?

Engage him in conversation, and empathize with his situation.

When I taught CNAs, I used to tell them that they get to go home, but the patients are trapped in their same room, same view, unimaginative food, etc.



109 Posts

It may not be within the financial means of the family, but a laptop computer with a DVD drive sounds like just the ticket. With it, he could play games, watch movies, listen to CDs, and maybe even get online (depending on his capabilities and availability of the Internet in your facility).

Hand-held gaming device is another idea if his dexterity is good enough.

A portable CD player would be less versatile, but would still give him something to listen to. Even a portable cassette player would work -- there are still many books on tape available from libraries.

(Can you tell I'm a techie at heart?)

tewdles, RN

Specializes in PICU, NICU, L&D, Public Health, Hospice. Has 31 years experience. 3,156 Posts

I know of a hospital unit who had a similar situation. They gave him things to do...and he appreciated it.

the child/life specialist and social workers came up with a plan for his mental stimulation, but when he was just "bored" the clerks and techs would let him help with restocking, was good (I think) for his cognitive and fine motor skills.

Virgo_RN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiac Telemetry, ED. 3,543 Posts

Had a quad who was a frequent flyer, who did paint by numbers.


mustlovepoodles, RN

Specializes in OB/GYN, Peds, School Nurse, DD. 1,041 Posts

Can someone walk with out outside? I wonder how difficult it would be to enlist some volunteers to meet with him a couple hours a day. You know, play a board game,crafts, cards or just watch a movie with him. I like the idea of engaging him in some meaningful work activities around the unit, even folding towels and stocking supplies would be good for him. Perhaps he could even make some get well cards for other people on the unit?



Specializes in Trauma/Ortho/Neuro. Has 4 years experience. 20 Posts

I really appreciate everybody's input so far.I like the idea in engaging him in some form of work like re-stocking things etc.Will suggest that next time I go to work.He is not at all interested in TV, movies,or Video games. There is no family support.

Any more thoughts?

86toronado, BSN, RN

Specializes in neurology, cardiology, ED. Has 5 years experience. 2 Articles; 528 Posts

At one point we had a 19 year old, developmentally disabled boy on our floor for over 2 months, not because he was ill, but because no one would take responsibility for him (parents didn't want him, state said he wasn't disabled enough to live in a state home.)

We gave him chores to do, like making his bed, and keeping his room neat. But he still acted out to the point where we had to call security at least once a day. Eventually I spoke to my nurse manager about getting him a "visitor pass" to the psych floor for when they had their arts and crafts time, and movie nights. It helped a lot.