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Heading to a Skilled Facility (rehab or nursing home)

Updated: Jul 28, 2022

Are you or a loved one heading to a skilled nursing facility soon for either short-term rehab or long term care? Read what our founder Dr. Dana Robbins suggests to bring to make the best out of your stay.

First, let's go over what most facilities will provide:

  • Toothpaste/toothbrush

  • Mouthwash

  • Comb

  • Deodorant

  • Body wash/Shampoo/Conditioner (sometimes this is an all in one)

  • Grippy socks

  • Briefs

  • Generic lotion

  • Hospital gown

  • A pillow

  • Blankets

Short term rehab:

This is the type of rehab you may be placed in for a short amount of weeks while you improve your strength and functional independence to allow you to return home safely.

What to bring:

  • Comforting objects : pictures of family or friends, a favorite stuffed animal, a pillow, or a blanket.

  • Clothes: Some facilities do have a stock pile of clothes or will provide you with a hospital gown but I think everyone is more comfortable in their own clothes.

    • Make sure your clothes are labeled.

    • Do not bring your favorite piece of clothing, unfortunately things often get lost in laundry. I recommend going to Walmart, Amazon or Goodwill to buy cheaper items and one's you are not attached to.

    • Shoes: You may not need shoes right away and you should be provided with grippy socks which usually are all you need. If you do want to bring socks or slippers just be sure they have a grip on their sole and don't slide.

    • Underwear: I would recommend a few comfortable bras. You of course can bring your own underwear, but they will provide you with disposable briefs and laundry turnover is usually not quick enough to wash and return your underwear in a timely manner.

  • Assistive devices: If you normally use a specific cane or walker you can bring it with you. Obviously, the therapy department will have ones you can use, but if yours is particular in any way it may be best to practice with that one so your transition home is smooth.

  • Electronic devices: If you have a cellphone I definitely recommend bringing it, along with the charger of course. You will be provided with a telephone but sometimes they do not have the best connection, the phone may come unplugged, it may be stuck on the other side of the room and you just may never remember your phone number to tell others!

    • Bring an extra long charger!

    • Make sure you have everyone's number you would need to contact in your phone or written down somewhere.

  • Entertainment:

    • I believe in 2022 all rooms will have a TV, but your never know. TV can also get boring after several hours.

    • Bring books! Most facilities do have some books you can look through and borrow.

    • Most facilities also have an activities department you can always ask for help if you need something to entertain you while you are waiting for your next therapy session.

    • Crossword puzzles or any type of puzzle to keep your mind busy.

    • Knitting or sewing- if it is something you enjoy.

    • A labeled iPad or tablet with an extra long charging cord to play games, browse the internet, read eBooks or video chat with family!

    • Headphones! Not just for your particular devices but most TV remotes have a headphone jack so you can listen to just your TV and don't need to compete with your neighbors volume or all the fun beeping noises you hear in the hall.

  • Hygiene:

    • You most likely will not be receiving a shower every day. But, you should be assisted with a sponge bath every day.

    • Anything that will make you feel better or more clean like your favorite smelling shampoo, body wash, or lotion. Just to make you feel a little bit better and fresh.

    • Any necessary hair accessories like a scrunchie, hair tie, hair wrap or clips.

    • Don't forget your Chapstick!!!!!

  • Food:

    • Of course, please check with your provider, facility or dietician before bringing food.

    • You will get 3 meals a day.

    • Some facilities have better meals than others.

    • You may want a quick drink or snack of your favorite thing from home in between meals.

Phew, I know that looks like a lot, maybe too much. But, being comfortable and prepared makes a difference in your recovery.

Long term care:

This type of rehab is for those who will be staying and living at the facility for a indefinite amount of time.

For this type of care, every object mentioned above can be considered. But, the most important objects I have noticed that make a difference in comfort levels are;

  • Comfort items: this can be anything really. But, an object that makes someone feel at home or comforted. This can be more than one object. This can be something as big as their favorite chair! (Check with the facility's policies before bringing in a chair.)

  • Comfortable clothes: long term care residents sit or laydown for most of the day. Comfortable pants or a gown would be best.

    • Be sure clothing fits properly and update them every few months.

    • Label everything!

  • Frequent visits! : probably the most important and meaningful one on the list.

I'm sure we have all experienced the stress and anxiety associated with moving at some point in our lives. Moving to a facility, whether for a short or long period of time, is just as stressful and filled with anxiety. I hope this list helps you with your own packing list and helps make you or a loved one stay a little more comfortable and improve your/their overall experince.

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