Wardipedia – 38. Patients birthdays

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Make a wish!


This is a simple one! We think it’s really important that birthdays are celebrated on the ward, if the patient wishes. Wishing of course being a birthday theme.

Although we’re including here quite a few thought starter ideas for ward birthday parties, they don’t have to be expensive or elaborate. Simply acknowledging birthdays goes a long way, especially for patients who are feeling cut off from family and friends or traumatised about their age.

All it takes is:

  1. a system for noting patients’ date of birth on arrival and transferring this to a Birthdays’ list
  2. asking patients (and/or their friends and relatives) how they’d like their birthday to be celebrated
  3. getting (or ideally patients making) a cake and some small gifts
  4. partying

A-Z of Ward Birthdays Ideas (almost)

Appreciation, acknowledgment
Bunting, balloons, banners, badges, birthday cards
Cake, candles, consultant involvement, celebration
Disco, decorations
Finger food, flags
Gifts, games
Hip Hip Hooray, hats
Imagination, indoor sports games, involvement
Joy, jokes
Kangaroo piñata
Music, mocktails
Noise makers, normalisation
Okay to opt out
Party bags, plastic coloured cups, personalisation, protected time
Quiche, quiz
Relatives invited
Singing, sash, stars
Themed party, table wear, tiaras
Ultraviolet makeup
Visits from family and friends
Wishes, water balloons

Ward examples

  • Birthday cakes can be ordered from the catering team in advance.
  • Family and friends bring in birthday party accessories.
  • The arts and crafts groups are utilised to make birthday cards, gift bags, bunting etc.
  • One member of staff is ‘Birthday Co-ordinator’ and keeps up-to-date with dates and organises the celebration.
  • Surprise parties are ruled out, instead patients are asked if they want their birthday celebrated.
  • A chart is displayed and updated on the office wall:
Name Birthday Celebration wanted? Resources needed
Steven Homes 03/03/13 Yes Card, cake, banner
Vicky Roberts 14/03/13 No N/A

Patient examples

  • On my birthday everyone on the ward signed a card and we had cake with lunch. It was nice to be thought about and I felt very special that day.
  • On someone’s birthday the staff and some of the patients secretly decorated the dining room so when they came for breakfast they had a lovely surprise.
  • On my birthday the staff organised a DVD eve and we got a few treats in. I was asked to chose the film and it was one of the better birthdays I’ve experienced.
  • On my birthday I was allowed to have slightly longer leave so that I could do something extra special with my family.
  • “On my birthday I opened my presents with some of the other people so I didn’t feel so sad about being in hospital for it.”

Categories: Generosity, Wardipedia