The Gift of Giving: Israel’s First Gift Room

Established by siblings working at Sheba in memory of their parents, the new gift room brings smiles to geriatric patients.

The concept of a hospital gift room is not new. Many hospitals around the world have gift rooms for kids, a place where children hospitalized for an extended period can choose a free toy or game to boost their spirits. But what about hospitalized seniors?

In April, Sheba Medical Center inaugurated Israel’s first hospital gift room exclusively for elderly patients. Located in the Geriatric Division of Sheba’s Rehabilitation Hospital, the unique room was the brainchild of Hagit Spiegel, Administrator at Sheba’s Edmond & Lily Safra Children’s Hospital, together with her brothers, Prof. Noam Yarom, Director of Sheba’s Oral Medicine Unit, and Avihai Yarom, in memory of their parents, Gila & Yossi Yarom.

“Our dear parents spent a lot of time volunteering with seniors and giving of themselves and we understood that this cycle of giving must continue,” Spiegel said. “We have an amazing gift room for kids at Sheba’s Children’s Hospital and when it came time to honor the memories of our late parents, we decided to focus on uplifting the spirits of Sheba’s senior patients.”

Intended for geriatric patients who are hospitalized long term or whose birthday occurs during hospitalization, the brightly-decorated room is filled with gifts—everything from books and puzzles to hats and blankets—selected in collaboration with a social worker from the Department of Senior Citizens and tailored to the needs of the patients. Patients visit the room accompanied by volunteers or family members who help them choose a gift.

“Every time our parents traveled in Israel or abroad, it was important for them to return with beautiful and gifts that were just right for the recipient,” said Dr. Yarom. “Each gift was tailored exactly to each child and grandchild, even if it required them to do lengthy searches. The gift room we set up with the help of Sheba’s management and with ongoing donations of gifts from many generous donors, helps us continue our parents’ legacy, passing on the value of giving to provide moments of joy to Sheba’s senior patients.”

“Like children, our senior patients get excited when they come to the gift room, said Gitit, currently doing her National Service at Sheba. “I once brought a patient to the gift room, and he selected a wool hat. He loved it so much he refused to take it off. When he returned to the ward, he was so proud to show it off to all the other patients and the staff.”

According to Spiegel, the one thing the new Sheba gift room does not have to worry about is illumination. “The smiles on the faces of the geriatric patients when they come to the gift room can light up the whole hospital!”

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