Best Practices for Hospital & Shut-In Visitation

Every good pastor and church will find themselves frequently visiting people in the hospital.  At my church, we visit people who are in the hospital or shut-in every single day. Every church sets up their visitation ministry a bit differently.  I explain how we set church’s visitation ministry here: How to Organize a Church Visitation Ministry. But, what do those individual visits look like?  I recently gave our staff some best practices:

  1. Pray before you arrive.  You are representing Jesus, ask how He wants to use you.
  2. Sanitize your hands.  Observe signs regarding masks and other contact precautions when entering a room. If you have been sick talk with the XP about whether you should actually visit.
  3. Turn off your cell phone or set it to silent.
  4. Have a plan.  Know what verses you are going to read.  Always have anointing oil.  When visiting shut-ins always take communion. 
  5. Introduce yourself.  If you don’t know the person, be sure to identify yourself and the fact you are from Calvary.  If the door is shut when you arrive, knock before entering. 
  6. Complete the visit, but don’t obstruct the flow.  Let the hospital staff do their job, at the same time make sure you do yours, even if you have to be assertive.
  7. Keep it short.  Being a patient can be exhausting.  Keep your hospital visits to about 10-15 minutes.  For shut-ins, a lot depends on the situation, but 30 minutes is a good rule of thumb.
  8. Don’t rush out the door, or even seem rushed.  Take the time to sit down, always in a chair and never on the bed.  Take your coat off and don’t make it seem like you are stopping by just to do a job.  If you sense you should stay, then stay.  Even if that means you are sitting quietly with the person, not even talking.
  9. Be sensitive, but not timid.  Ask questions about what is going on in their life, but if you sense they are being private don’t press.
  10. Pray.  Always pray for the person you are visiting.  Ask permission, but always offer to anoint with oil.
  11. Remember the family.  They often require pastoral care too.  A great practice is to call the family after visiting with their loved one.
  12. Send your report.  You should email a report of your visits to *******@*********.***. 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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