What is the lived experience of hospitality for adults during their hospital stay?
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Evidence suggests that hospital patients receive the medical treatment they need but are sometimes left feeling depersonalised and alienated with their overall treatment. The patient may be treated for their illness but the person may not be treated in a holistic way. Therefore this New Zealand study posed the question, “What is the lived experience of hospitality for adults during their hospital stay?” This study used a hermeneutic phenomenological methodology, guided by Heidegger and Gadamer. Participants were purposively recruited and consented in writing to take part in the study. The criteria for inclusion involved participants who had been admitted to hospital within the last two years for elective surgery and had remained in hospital for a minimum of three days. The seven participants were aged between 22 and 65, all female, and lived in the Auckland Region. Data were gathered using semi-structured, conversational style, individual interviews which were audio taped. The interviews were transcribed verbatim and coherent stories of hospitality moments were drawn from the transcripts. These stories were returned to the participants for validation. The stories were analysed using van Manen’s iterative method to uncover an understanding of the meaning of hospitality for these surgical patients. This interpretative approach involved being within the hermeneutic circle to gain an understanding of the meanings within the text. The findings revealed that hospitality showed itself in different ways to the participants, interpreted under the notions of ‘hospitality just is’, ‘being at ease’ and ‘being healed’. Participants’ stories revealed that when hospitality was present it evoked feelings of comfort and when it was absent they sometimes felt alienated and ignored. These findings suggest that when the patient is treated in a holistic way, attending to not just the illness but the person within, the patient feels cared about. It is this willingness to get to know ‘the stranger’, through healthcare workers’ often small actions which hold the possibility of creating an emotional and socially connecting experience which may be experienced by the patient as hospitality. When hospitality exists in the lived moments of hospitalised patients it evokes feelings of being healed and improves subjective wellbeing.