Do you or a loved one have a planned hospital stay coming up? Are you a caregiver that will be accompanying someone with a planned hospital stay? While the hospital will provide you with the basics, organized and thoughtful planning can really make a difference in regards to your comfort and calm for both of you. We’ve surveyed patients and caregivers and compared them to our own experiences to develop the following packing list. If you have any ideas, don’t hesitate to reach out to us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or our Facebook page! Don’t forget to download our PDF checklists below.
REQUIRED DOCUMENTATION AND ITEMS
- Insurance cards
- Photo ID
- Any other insurance information such as pre-certifications, prescription appeals, etc
- A copy of your advance directives, health care proxy, living will and DPOA. If you are unaware of what these documents are don’t worry, you may not need them. If you do and do not have them, they will go over it during your stay.
- Bring with you any medical imaging disks, surgical photos or records received from other offices.
- Have a conversation with your admitting doctor prior to your stay. There may be circumstances in which they will ask you to bring your medications from home. This is very important as they may not be able to obtain certain specialty medications. If you are the caregiver, make sure you have your medications on hand as the hospital is prohibited to supply you.
- Don’t forget to bring your CareAline Sleeves and/or CareAline Wraps to manage your lines during your stay.
PERSONAL HEALTH RECORD
Most of your medical history can be found with an ipad however, it’s not necessarily always updated with the most recent changes and your hospital’s EMR (electronic medical record) may not be linked with all of your specialists. Keep your own up to date (PHR) personal health record. Make a few copies and slip them in a binder to distribute to those who need it. Retain a copy for yourself to jot notes down. Your PHR should include the following information (or you could just download our linked PDF form below).
- Contact information
- Allergies- include the name of the medication or food and what happens to you when it’s ingested
- Medication list (include all over the counter and topical medications)
- Treatment orders (how you manage your central line, G-Tube, etc.)
- Pharmacy used
- Past hospital stays
- Past surgical history
- Health Care Proxy name and contact information
The hospital can be chilly and the air is dry. They provide you with the basic necessities, a johnny, pillow, blanket, a few toiletries etc. but having a few of your own special things from home will make a big difference. I don’t know about you but I’ve never found a hospital pillow that didn’t ruin my day. Who needs a stiff neck on top of everything else you’re dealing with? And having a comfy robe from home and some chapstick on hand can make a huge difference in how you feel.
- Hearing aids
- The protective containers for those above
- Any specialized equipment or treatment supplies. For example, they may not have your particular brand of ostomy equipment so bring what works for you.
- Do you have or will you have a port, central line, picc line or G-Tube? Don’t forget your CareAline sleeve or wrap. Your hospital may stock them, so you can ask this question ahead of time and find out if you need to bring extras.
Toiletries (avoid heavy scents):
- Hair ties, scrunchies and headbands
- Hair brush
- Your own shampoo (this particular one was echo’d more than you think!) Hospital shampoo and the hospital provided comb created quite the mess for our long locked patients and caregivers.
- Unscented moisturizer
- Unscented chapstick
- Non-skid socks or slippers. I am not a sensory sensitive person but the rough gray slipper socks with the seam that sits directly on the tip of your toes is not something I want to feel ever again.
- A robe
- Pajamas (consider IV placement or any other tubing that will need to be accessible)
- Headwear (if required)
- An eye mask
- Flip flops for the shower
- Slide on shoes or slippers to put on if you are getting out of bed to use the restroom
- A small amount of cash for vending machine or gift shop
- Clothing for discharge
- Phone charger
- Neck pillow
- Download some guided imagery recordings prior to your hospital stay to aid in relaxation, stress and pain. Click below for our CFO’s favorite- Marconi Union “Weightless.” watch here
- Emotional support items
- A book or a few audiobook downloads.
- A stress ball or fidget
- A small container of play doh or wiki sticks can be a fun distraction toy
- A coloring book and colored pencils. Even for those who don’t color, consider it. Many find coloring to be a huge stress reliever while in the hospital.
- A special lovey or stuffed animal
- For pediatric patients- check in with child life services. They have crafts, bubbles, window chalk and toys on hand.
If you are unsure about bringing anything with you, most hospitals include a list of allowable items on their website. They generally ask that you avoid bringing in items of great value and large sums of cash and jewelry. You can probably bring your cell phone but always double check as they can interfere with electronic patient monitoring and they likely have restricted areas. Heating pads and electric blankets are often restricted due to risk of burns and fire as are some electronic items. Don’t hesitate to ask if they have any alternatives in the building if these items are of great comfort to you.