Information for patients, families and carers
This leaflet can be made available in other formats including large print, CD and Braille and in languages other than English, upon request.
Introduction – the myths of being in hospital
Many people believe that bed rest is the best way to recover from many illnesses or injuries, and that;
- Patients should stay in bed because they will get better if they rest.
- It is not safe for patients to get out of bed.
- Patients are not supposed to wash and dress themselves.
Staying in bed for too long, not getting up and about, and not trying to wash and dress yourself affects your recovery by reducing muscle strength and mobility.
This can mean that you struggle to get back to normal when you go home. We call this “Deconditioning”. The sooner you are active, the sooner you should be able to go home.
What are the facts?
Staying in bed and not moving can lead to other problems.
- It can affect your breathing.
- Your skin could break down and become sore.
- Muscles lose strength and you get weaker and tire more easily.
- You lose independence in personal care such as washing and dressing.
- You might not be able to digest food properly causing stomach ache or constipation.
- You may get confused.
- You may lose self-confidence.
Although there can be risks with moving around, staying in bed is actually more risky to health and wellbeing. There are lots of things we can do to keep you as safe as possible while you move about in hospital.
What are the benefits of staying active in hospital?
- Can improve breathing
- Can improve ability to fight infections
- Can improve appetite
- Can improve sleep
- Can improve mood
- Can improve able to cope at home
- Can reduce risk of bed sores
- Can reduce weakness and fatigue
- Can reduce dizziness
- Can reduce risk of falls
- Can reduce pain
- Can reduce confusion
How to stay active in hospital
Every little bit of activity can help to keep you healthy. If you are not sure what you are safe to do, please ask a member of your healthcare team
Where possible, carry on doing what you were able to do at home, such as washing and dressing, or walking to the bathroom.
Ask a family member or friend to bring in your shoes, slippers and day clothes as well as any glasses, hearing aids, walking stick or frame if you would normally use them.
If you are able to:
- Try sitting up for all meals, either on a chair or at the edge of your bed.
- Try sit up in a chair when you have visitors.
- Try walk around the ward, either alone or with help if needed.
- Try gentle exercises on your own throughout the day, even in a bed or chair (we can show you how).
Let the ward team know what you are normally able to do so they can make sure your care is aimed at returning you to your usual abilities or as near to this as possible
How we will help
We will look at what you were able to do before you came into hospital to make sure we understand how best to support and encourage you to keep moving.
- You should have a full assessment to help us to know how you normally get about.
- We will make sure we look at any risks that may stop you from being able to get out of bed so we can support you.
- If you need glasses or hearing aids let us know so we can make sure you have them to hand.
We can provide you with anything you need to help move around and get out of bed.
- Do you have the right equipment to help you move about such as a walking stick or frame? If not we should be able to provide what you need.
- Sitting out of bed helps, we can help you get out of bed.
- If you can walk to the toilet, it keeps you moving and prepares you for home.
We will encourage you to ‘Do It Yourself’ if you can.
- Eat or drink on your own if you are able.
- Wash and dress yourself if you are able, and wear your own clothes.
- Keep changing your position even if you are in a bed or chair.
Setting yourself a small daily activity goal can help you to improve your activity in hospital. Please feel free to use this space for your own personal goals and take it home with you to keep improving after you leave hospital.
|Date||Today I aim to||Achieved?|
|Walk back from the toilet/sit in the chair for my meals/wash and dress myself etc.||Yes/No|
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:00pm
Email: [email protected]
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these policies and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet reference: PIL1449
Date for review: 28/06/2026