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What to expect while you are in hospital

Hospital and nursing care is always changing with new practices and technology. Here are some of the things you can expect during your hospital stay.

Getting up, dressed and moving!

We'll be asking you, when you are ready, to get up, get dressed, and get moving! You will also have the opportunity to be involved in your care through bedside handovers.

Get Up

When appropriate, patients are encouraged to spend less time in their hospital bed, like eating meals while sitting in a chair, either in the ward or in the dining room.

Get Dressed

This means that when you are staying in the hospital, don’t just bring pyjamas! Make sure you bring comfortable casual clothes to change into during the day. There are many psychological benefits to getting dressed and becoming more active - it does wonders for making you feel like you again!

Get Moving

For people over 80 years of age, 10 days in bed ages the muscles by 10 years. One week of bed rest results in 10% muscle loss. Loss of strength could be the difference between living at home or the rest home. Get moving, make the most of the patient lounges, public areas and gardens. Try to spend time with visitors away from the bedside. Take advantage of the ‘walking tracks’ around the ward for both physical and psychological benefits.

Bedside handover

Handover is when one team of nurses finishes their shift, and a new team arrives. It is important that the right information is passed from one team to the other. Bedside handover allows you to be part of this process. When nursing handover occurs at the bedside, the patient knows who is looking after them, and there is an opportunity for an update and for any points to be clarified. A small handover will still occur away from the bedside to discuss any sensitive issues. In certain situations, it may be appropriate for a family member to be involved in your handover.  

Understanding treatment and procedures

Staff members will explain all treatment and procedures to you. It is important that you understand this information so please ask if you are uncertain about anything

Accessing support

Your safety is a priority. If you require additional support or feel that you are at risk notify the nurses and admissions staff immediately. Southern DHB ensures that every ward is assigned nursing assistants, social workers, kaiāwhina, chaplains, security officers and has access to interpreters. Our support services are available to assist you during your hospital stay, help with managing changes in health, support safe discharge processes and to provide the appropriate resources.

Services and facilities in Southland, Dunedin, Queenstown and Wakari hospitals

For information about facilities in rural hospitals, please see their pages in the Southern Health A-Z directory.

Shower and bathroom facilities

Each ward is equipped with shower and bathroom facilities for patients. Please advise staff if you require assistance. 

ATM/Cash-out facilities, vending machines and onsite cafes and shops. 

ATM/Cash-out facilities are limited but are available in the main reception. Hospital shops, cafes and a number of vending machines accept cash, eftpos and credit-card payments.

Family rooms

If you are bringing a family/whanau member or friend to support you during your hospital stay, comfortable family/whanau rooms are available on each ward.

Meals and dietary requirements

You will receive breakfast, lunch and dinner on the days you are staying, and can select your daily preference from the menus provided. Your options may be limited based on your particular health needs. Please notify staff of any allergies or specific dietary requirements.

Smoking, Vaping,  Alcohol and Drugs

All Southern DHB premises are smoke-free, alcohol-free and drug-free for all staff and visitors. You may not smoke or vape on hospital premises. If you need to smoke or vape, please notify a staff member before leaving the ward.

If you are a smoker, Smoke-free Support can offer advice and support to quit during your stay and in some cases may be able to provide you with nicotine replacement therapy – please ask your nurse for more information. Smoke-free Support is also available following your discharge to support you in becoming smoke-free. Quitline: 0800 778 778.  

Patient WiFi Internet Services

Wi-fi internet is available - just go to your settings and select Patient Wi-Fi. If you have trouble please ask at your ward reception.

Visiting hours

Visiting hours vary between wards and departments. Parents can visit the children’s wards at any time.


There are no laundry services available, so you may want to arrange for a family member or friend to launder your clothes if you are staying for a long time.