What to Bring to a Nursing Home When Being Admitted

It’s unfortunate, but in nursing homes, anything can become lost or stolen. In fact, missing items are quite common, and nursing homes spend thousands of dollars each year replacing missing items. Items are often sent to the laundry, never to be seen again. Clothing items can be misplaced when staff members place them on the wrong person, and patients with dementia often steal other people’s possessions. Missing items aren’t limited to clothing – pretty much anything can come up missing. It’s important to have the staff log everything the patient brings onto the Facility Inventory form, or it won’t be possible for the items to be replaced.

Most nursing homes require that seniors and/or their family members sign statements that agree that the nursing home isn’t responsible for missing items. Even if such a statement is signed, the nursing home is generally responsible for items that staff members lose or ruin. This includes glasses that are dropped and broken while the senior is receiving care, dentures that are broken, and hearing aids that are lost. The nursing home may also be responsible for clothing ruined in the laundry (a common occurance), which is why it’s best for family and friends to do their laundry if at all possible.

Whether they’re planning on a short-term or long-term stay, seniors are encouraged to bring in personal items. Be cautious about bringing in items such as computers, cell phones, DVD players, etc. because most nursing homes will not reimburse seniors for these items if they’re lost. It’s also permissible to bring favorite blankets, quilts, etc. although the nursing home is required to furnish all of the items that the senior will need, including bedding and towels.

It’s best to bring copies of photos rather than the originals; many family members make collages of family photos that include messages and cards. When bringing photographs it’s best to speak with the nursing home staff, as some states require that they be framed or sprayed with fire proofing. This can ruin original photographs. Another option would be to bring digital photo frames.

If the senior is being admitted for short-term services, it’s best to bring clothing items that the senior can wear while they’re receiving therapies. Sweatpants, comfortable shirts, comfortable sleepwear are all good ideas. Don’t forget to bring shoes that the senior can wear during therapies, such as tennis shoes. Most nursing homes recommend only 3-5 changes of clothing be brought in, whether or not the nursing home will be doing the senior’s laundry. Every item should have the senior’s name written on it with a permanent marker so that it can be easily identified if lost, and there are light colored permanent markers that can be used to mark dark items.

Many people are hesitant to permanently mark their parent’s clothing with their name – but realistically, no one else will be wearing them so it really shouldn’t matter. Names can be written discreetly on the tag or somewhere inside the clothing – but if it’s a delicate clothing item, it’s best not to bring it to a nursing home. Many people shop for outfits that will specifically be worn in the nursing home, so it doesn’t matter if a permanent marker ruins the clothing.

When marking personal items, the nursing home staff members aren’t allowed to write the senior’s name on the outside of the clothing due to confidentiality laws, but the family is free to do so. The benefit to writing the senior’s name on the outside of his clothes is that they can be easily identified when worn by someone else. There are also decorative paints or patches that can be sewn on that will identify the owner of the clothing, yet will look attractive.

Seniors can usually bring their own shampoo, conditioner, soaps, shaving lotions and razors if they’d like (some nursing homes charge extra for these items). They are also able to bring magazines or other items to amuse themselves during the time that they aren’t receiving treatments. However, in most states they’re not allowed to bring in extension cords, heating pads or other electrical items due to the risk of harming themselves or other seniors. It’s important to ask whether these items are permissible, because if they aren’t allowed they’ll either be confiscated or you’ll be required to take them home.

Some nursing homes furnish refrigerators in each room; if not, ask the admissions coordinator if you can bring one in so that the senior will have refreshments in his room. If you buy one, make sure it’s an actual refrigerator that can keep food at the proper temperature (33-38 degrees, or in accordance with the nursing home regulations). Many of the small personal refrigerators that are sold are actually coolers that keep food at about 20 degrees below ambient room temperature; these are not acceptable to keep food cold enough to be considered safe. The way to identify whether the fridge you’re buying is a true refrigerator is that real refrigerators have freezers, even if they’re tiny. Nursing homes are required to follow certain state and federal regulations regarding refrigeration of food, and they’re not negotiable. The nursing home will probably place a thermometer in the senior’s fridge for the staff to monitor, and if the refrigerator fails, it will either need to be repaired or replaced.

It’s best to limit the items a senior brings to a nursing home. There is usually minimal storage room, and everything will need to be moved if there’s a room change. If the senior is sent out to the hospital, everything will be boxed up and stored – or the nursing home might ask you to pick them up so they don’t become misplaced.