We all know the importance of practicing the 7 corporal works of mercy and many of us strive to do them as often as possible. However, it’s not always doable with our busy schedules. Sure, we can give money to those who panhandle outside grocery stores. Of course, we can carve time out of our schedule to visit a soup kitchen on the weekend. Those are usually the two works of mercy that are we default to.
What if I told you that there was one single place where you could practice 5 of the 7 corporal works of mercy and that you could get them done in a single trip? Yes, it’s possible and it’s in a place often overlooked by our society: convalescent hospitals.
Here are the 5 corporal works of mercy you can do on a single visit to a convalescent hospital:
Feed the Hungry
At most convalescent hospitals, you can offer to help nurses feed the patients who are unable to feed themselves. You can also help wheelchair-bound patients get to and from their rooms to the dining room. If they can feed themselves but are bed-bound, you can bring them their trays and help return them to trays afterward.
Give Drink to the Thirsty
Many patients at convalescent hospitals have mobility issues so that are unable to get their most basic needs without help. You can offer to check in on bed-bound patients during mealtimes and offer to refresh their drinks. Some of them have dietary restrictions so always check with nurses to know what they can and can’t drink.
Clothe the Naked
Believe it or not, there is often a great need for clothing donations as not all the patients arrive at the hospitals with clothes. Some patients are brought to the hospitals off the streets. Others have no family members to help bring them clothing once their own have been worn out. While most patients are elderly, there is no discrimination on what kind of clothing is accepted as long as it’s in good condition.
Visit the Sick
This one is no-brainer… but there’s more to it than most people think. You think “convalescent hospital” and “patients” and you naturally assume that you’ll be visiting the sick. However, did you know that some of them are left at these places, by their families, and are never visited again? I’ve heard stories about how some families don’t return to see their relatives they receive a call that they’ve passed away. Try finding out who gets no visitors and spend an hour or two with them.
Visit the Imprisoned
Most people don’t put the words “hospital” and “prison” together but some patients feel imprisoned at these locations. Whether they are bed-bound or have limited mobility, most patients never see the outside of the hospital unless it’s to be taken to and from other hospitals for procedures. Some convalescent hospitals have activity directors who occasionally take patients out for limited periods of time; think a special birthday lunch or a local convenience store for a treat. You can volunteer to help them during those trips. As with visiting the sick, you can also spend time with those are bed bound and unable to leave.
Whether you visit only once or make it a part of your regular routine, I highly recommend visiting convalescent hospitals. There are so many patients who are in need of kindness, love, and mercy. Many of them are in their twilight years and have had difficult periods in their lives. I cannot think of a better place to show them a little human compassion before their time on earth is up.