Useful Packing Check List For When You're Moving Into A Care Home
Moving to a care home is such an emotional time for both families and residents. It's incredibly hard for people in 'normal' circumstances, but now we find ourselves in a global pandemic with multiple lockdowns which makes this particular decision so unbelievably difficult. I hope that this checklist is useful for families making this transition with their loved ones.
Moving into a care home, what will I need ?
Before the global pandemic we are currently facing, families had the opportunities to make this transition with their loved ones together - Getting to move them in on day 1 and personalise their living space, work with the carers to discuss their preferences and routine. Once settled families had the ability to visit daily.
Sadly (for the time being and foreseeable future), this is no longer the case. With no visiting, residents having to quarantine for 14 days in their bedrooms alone, and the fact you can't even go in with the resident when they arrive .... all of these factors add an immense amount of pressure to an already difficult decision.
Below, I have put together some simple suggestions that might be useful for this move.
This Is Me
'This is me' is a simple leaflet for anyone receiving professional care who is living with dementia or experiencing delirium or other communication difficulties.
'This is me' can be used to record details about a person who can't easily share information about themselves. For example, it can be used to record:
- a person’s cultural and family background
- important events, people, and places from their life
- their preferences and routines.
- Hearing aids, dentures, dignity in dining cutlery are all things that can be added.
The leaflet can be used in any setting – at home, in hospital, in respite care, or in a care home.
I know that some care settings provide their own one of these, but again with the national lockdown and restrictions in place, it might be something that's overlooked. This is a great way for staff to add it to the resident's care plan.
The Alzheimer's Society, which is an invaluable charity here in the UK has a fantastic downloadable leaflet that you can print out and fill in at home. They can also send out one free copy too.
What's included in the cost?
Anyone looking into a care home facility (whether it's a permanent placement or respite) knows this comes with a crippling, unavoidable cost. (Don't get me started on this!)
Firstly ask some questions to your home or duty manager about what is actually included in the monthly fee.
- Are bedding and towels provided?
- Is the laundering of linen included?
- Does my loved one’s room have cable, and is it included in the monthly cost?
- What about local and long-distance telephone service?
- Is there public and/or secure wifi access available?
- Do they provide a wall clock, TV, or any personal care products?
Due to the COVID virus and the risk of cross-contamination care homes should provide a lot of these things like linen, bedding, etc, but definitely check in case - It will eliminate the element of surprise when that first ghastly bill comes through
What to pack?
What usually makes our houses feel like a home is the niceties we've collected over the years that bring back all of those wonderful memories. This is especially important with new residents that have developed dementia. Living in a new home or environment could cause seniors to become more confused, agitated, stressed, and isolated. Familiar belongings and objects can ease these emotions.
- Photo album or Photo frames with pictures of loved ones.
- Books or e-reader
- Games or hobbies, e.g. knitting or colouring
- Writing materials. Stationary and Stamps if your loved one likes to send/receive mail
- Favourite lap blanket or cushion for the armchair
- A favourite soft toys (Worth reading up on the benefits of doll/soft animal therapy with dementia patients)
- Favourite piece of artwork
- A clock or lamp from home
- CD player with favourite music - Can not stress the importance of music, especially at this time where residents have to self isolate in their rooms for 14 days.
- TV and DVD player with favourite DVD's of films/music concerts
- If your loved one is religious, make sure they have their religious texts of choice, plus any associated items or prayer aids, such as a rosary, shawl, crucifix, etc.
- A pretty wall calendar, marked with special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.
Packing toiletries that your loved one is used to using is a good idea. The familiar products and smells will help them feel more at home.
- Toothbrush (and if an electric brush is used, a charger)
- Body lotion
- Face products, e.g. moisturiser, face cleanser
- Body wash/shower gel
- Soap for sink
- Talcum Powder
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Hairbrush or comb
- Make-up if used and remover wipes.
- Hairstyling tools, e.g. straighteners, rollers, mousse,
- Shaving equipment (if an electric shaver is used, the charger too)
- Sponge or pouf
- Tops (jumpers, twinsets, blouses, and cardigans - I recommend enough for 8-10 days. Be sure to pack what is appropriate for the season - Remember as we age, our bodies become sensitive to cold temperatures.)
- Trousers/Skirts (Enough for 8-10 days)
- Slippers (I can't stress the importance of a good fitting Slipper. To ensure they are steady on their feet, older people need slippers that grip the foot well - ideally with a Velcro fastener - and have a firm, slip-resistant sole.
- 5 or 6 sets of nightclothes
- A dressing gown and/or bed jacket.
- Two pairs of shoes
- Socks or stockings (I'd recommend socks more for warmth, and just the fact the majority of homes use tumble dryers)
- Warm fluffy bed socks
- Underwear (knickers, pants, bras, and vests)
- A warm coat or jacket and hat/scarf/gloves
Accessories are part of a person’s individual style and should be encouraged! Nothing too valuable or with sharp points or edges should be taken in, but a hat, watch, scarves, or beads are lovely.
All items must be clearly marked with your loved one’s name.
Care homes and nursing homes rely on shared facilities and communal spaces where belongings are easily mixed up or misplaced. Petit Fernand stick-on labels are a quick and easy way to label clothing and personal possessions – giving you the reassurance that these items will stay safe.
Creating your own inventory form to keep track of your loved one's belongings is a good way to determine if something has been lost or stolen.
Keep communication with the care home open. Don't be afraid to call and ask about your loved ones. My only advice would be to be respectful of mealtimes, as the staff are usually so busy with dining and medication rounds that you may get a less thorough answer of your loved ones days/nights.
I really hope some of this information will be useful to you in this new chapter of your lives. Hopefully, this will be a wonderful opportunity for your loved ones to thrive in their new home, make new friends and have the higher level of care that they need to make the rest of their days safe and comfortable.