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There are many things that a patient in a nursing home would love to have during their stay in a nursing home. What type of things to bring depends on whether it will be a short-term or long-term stay for the patients.
If the nursing home stay is short-term, then focus on the core things to get through the staff, such as clothing, warm blankets, and anything that could entertain them during their stay.
If the patient is at the nursing home for an extended period, your focus will change to decorations for their room and items that will make their rooms feel more like home. Delivering the patient a care package such as snacks, streaming gift cards, and books/magazines will always be appreciated.
Items such as a picture, book, iPad, or cell phone will help the patient adjust to their new home. They will need to adjust to their new environment, and things from home can personalize their rooms. By adding a personal touch, it may help with their transition.
If you visit someone who has been in the nursing home for a while, you can bring them something related to you. You may have had good times in the past that you have pictures of or memorabilia. May the patient has a favorite sports team, and you could get them a warm blanket with their favorite team.
Some people bring old pictures of the resident with their family members. These pictures can remind them of the past. Photos are especially helpful with dementia residents.
What not to bring to the nursing home
Nursing homes are required to provide most of the basics of living for the patient. There will be essential furniture such as a bed, chair, telephone, bed linens, bathroom supplies/toiletries, and nursing home meals.
Before you come to visit, make sure that any food you bring to the patient is checked by the nurse to assure that the patient can eat that particular food item.
Many patients will have limitations on types of food and drink. If the patient has difficulty swallowing, your food item could potentially cause the resident to choke or have an allergic reaction. Don’t put the patient at risk by sneaking in their favorite food item.
Another thing, do not bring alcohol to the residents without first obtaining permission from the nursing home staff. The patients need an order to imbibe alcohol and usually is limited to one drink at the most.
Some people try to sneak more, but they get in trouble and often get sent to the hospital if found to be inebriated. They also may be on medications that could harm the resident when mixed with alcohol.
There is no need to bring any medical supplies like canes, dressings, etc. The facility will provide all the medical supplies the patient needs during their stay.
However, upon discharge from the home, there may be some out-of-pocket expenses regarding medical supply purchases. When they are going home is when you can help them with their supplies.
Try to avoid “makeup” in this setting when possible. With short-term stays, it is best to use minimal makeup to prevent rashes, skin conditions, etc. Elders in the nursing home are not given showers as regularly as in the home setting.
It is important to protect and preserve the body’s natural oils. Using some makeup isn’t frowned upon for the patient, but it’s probably best to focus on other things to bring to the nursing home during their stay.
For the longest time, bringing flowers to people that you visited in the hospital, and the nursing home was the gift of choice. Over time, flowers and plants have pollen that can cause allergic reactions. There is also the chance of mold transmission via the plants in patients with compromised immune systems. However, it is still a great gift if you know the roommate is ok to have flowers in the room.
Balloons should be avoided as a gift due to a possible latex allergy. Most hospitals and nursing homes have moved away from anything latex. There are more residents and staff that have developed latex allergies. Therefore, it is best not to bring balloons to the patient.
Things to bring to the facility
If the patient is a long-term resident of the nursing home, they will most likely appreciate some clothing such as socks, underwear, shirts, and pants.
Make sure that the clothing is comfortable and easy to put on and take off. Try to avoid multiple buttons and tight-fitting clothing that will present a challenge to the resident when getting dressed.
Warm sweaters and pajamas are always a hit, especially with the elderly who are often cold and would like warm outfits. Even a pair of comfortable slippers or bath shoes may come in handy.
However, if the patient requires total assistance with care, then they won’t need the slippers or bath shoes. They will most likely stay in socks most of the time. You may be able to get the resident a pair of warm wool socks.
If you are close to the patient, try bringing in pictures so that the patient can add decorative touches to their rooms. The photographs will also be helpful for them to remember the good times you had. You could even pick up a frame for a photo they have in the room. Many families now get digital frames and upload photos of friends and family. A low-cost yet nice-looking frame can be purchased here. Digital Frame
A comfy warm blanket is usually a hit when it comes to receiving a gift in this setting. The facility’s covers are often thinner than home covers and may not be enough for the patient.
The patient may just want a smaller colorful blanket for their laps when sitting in the chair or wheelchair. A smaller blanket will provide them warmth but not get in the way of the wheels on the chair.
You may also want to bring a wireless or wired headset for them to listen to music. A Bluetooth headset would be more accessible for the patient and not get tangled in the covers. However, I recommend not using wireless earbuds due to how easily they get lost.
You could always bring a higher quality electric razor or Shaving razor. The staff is usually pretty accommodating when it comes to using what the patient likes with grooming. Picking up an aftershave lotion is a nice touch, but the resident may already have a personal preference.
Deodorant, toothpaste, soap, shampoo is something that most people have a personal preference for. So bringing these even will make them feel more at home. Most facilities will provide basic versions, so it’s a nice thing to get them what they are used to using.
By using the patient’s regular personal hygiene products, there is less chance for allergic reactions to new products. Plus, the smells are familiar to them, making for a smoother transition.
Most elderly persons feel cold most of the time. Nursing homes are required by state guidelines to keep the temperature in the home higher than most residential homes.
If you have a family member in the nursing home that usually feels warm, you can consider bringing them a fan. The only caveat is the facility will need to check all electronics that are plugged into the wall before being used. The inspection of the device is for safety, to avoid fires and electrical hazards.
The maintenance worker who inspects it will usually label the electronics after checking them out.
What kinds of food should you bring to the nursing home?
Food can bring pleasure to people, especially when in the nursing home setting. Most nursing homes have a limited budget when it comes to food. The food service personnel do their best to prepare tasty meals for the patients.
However, preparing food that the patient likes can be especially tricky when they want ethical foods. The foods that facilities make are targeted at larger populations. If the patient requires culturally diverse meals such as Spanish or Indian cuisine, your give of food can make the patient’s day.
Many nursing homes try to diversify their menus, but it is tough to make the meals taste homemade. When guests bring in approved culturally appropriate meals, you make the stay that much more enjoyable.
The most important thing to consider is whether the patient can eat the food you bring in. If the patient has congestive heart failure and you bring a salt-heavy meal, it could worsen the patient’s condition.
The highest risk is with allergies and when the patient has difficulty swallowing food or drinks. If you call ahead, sometimes the nurse will let you know if the meal is allowed. Sometimes they will not be allowed to give you information due to privacy concerns
Fun things for the patient
If your family or loved one recently was sent to a nursing home, it can be very boring at times. Especially if the TV hasn’t been set up or there isn’t anything good on TV.
Bringing games that they can be doing while alone such as crossword puzzles, Soduko, or a deck of cards can come in handy to pass the time. If the resident is young, they may enjoy playing video games. If they have a specific gaming system, buying a new game can go a long way to pass time.
Long-term and short-term residents both could benefit from a tablet computer such as an Ipad. The tablet is even better if there is built-in WiFi. The facilities are known for having weak internet connections. By having the WiFi built-in to the tablet they don’t have to rely on the facility internet.
Along with a tablet computer, having a streaming service to watch movies and shows can be a great gift. Services such as Netflix, Hulu, or Prime are low-cost and can provide hours of entertainment.
Air diffusers/Essential Oil Diffusers can help to provide scents to the patient’s room that remind them of home. Smells in nursing homes can create a home-like environment or make it an unpleasant experience. By having an essential oil diffuser, you will help create a home-like environment.
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When you are in the nursing home, it is boredom that gets the best of the patient. By supplying them with reading material you can help pass the time. It’s always best when you know what they like to read and get them a special book.
However, knowing what they like to read isn’t always possible. You may want to consider getting the patient a subscription to audiobooks via a subscription service. You can also get large print books that they can see and read.
Most facilities provider free newspapers for the patients. If the facility doesn’t provide this benefit, a subscription via print or online subscriptions would be a smile to any patient.
The one thing that most patients will want you to bring is yourself. You can give no greater gift than your time. Most of the time boredom is high with patients and you providing some time, breaks the monotony of their stay.
What may work for one person may not work for the other. It really depends on what the facility provides for the patient and what the personal preference of the patient is. In the end, it will be the thought of your gift that matters most. Just showing that you care enough to bring them a gift will most likely bring a smile to their face.
In the end, it is the care the facility provides to the resident that matters the most. They will be provided with the basics for their stay. Now they just need to get stronger and better so they can good home if possible.
Sehulster L., Chinn, R., Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities Recommendations of CDC and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5210a1.htm