14 October 2019
Emergency Care: What to Pack, What to Ask, How to Prepare
Moving into care is a big change in someone’s life – and while it should never be upsetting, a huge change in environment and situation can be a distressing time for anyone. This can be exacerbated by the need for emergency care, when a loved one is moved into a care home fairly rapidly, perhaps after a change in health situation, an accident, or a catalyst that means care is the only option left. Adapting to care is not something that will happen overnight – it takes time for the resident to get used to their new surroundings, the people around them, and the unfamiliar situation they find themselves in, especially if they had been independent for a long time prior to living in care. While Hallmark Care Homes’ team will do everything they can do to welcome your loved one, there are still a few things you can do to help make sure their transition – especially in the case of emergency care – is as smooth as possible.
What to Pack:
In a situation where emergency care is necessary, your loved one may not be able to pack their own belongings or decide what to bring. Therefore, you should endeavour to help them decide their priorities, and discuss with the care home when you can bring their other personal items.
Here are some things you must pack for your loved ones first night at the care home:
- Medication and doctors’ notes; all medication your loved one takes and notes for the team on when to take it.
- Mobile phone and necessary electricals; remember all chargers but also bear in mind items may need to be PAT tested.
- Personal documents; any documents and identity verification that the care home may need copies of.
- Pets and necessary care items; if your care home allows your loved one to bring a small domestic pet, bring them and any items the pet may need for the time being.
- Toiletries; your care home will likely supply toiletries but if your loved one has any favourites – or if knowing they have their own toiletries will ease anxieties – pack some for them.
- Night clothes, and a few changes of clothes and underwear, including slippers and a dressing gown; make sure your loved one has a few changes of clothes and some comfortable nightwear.
- Coat and warm items; although it may only be a few days before you bring your loved one the rest of their belongings, the temperature can change rapidly, so just make sure they’re prepared with some warmer items.
- Sanitary items, such as continence pads, if necessary
Things in the future you should bring:
- Small items of furniture
- More clothes, shoes, coats and nightwear
- Books and games
- All clothes and shoes
- Ornaments and favourite décor
- Family photos and memorabilia
- Extra blankets and pillows
- Extra electricals, such as tablets or small televisions
What to Ask:
What to ask the care home:
Due to the nature of emergency care, it’s likely something has happened that has made the decision necessary, such as a sudden deterioration in health. Always discuss with the care home team how this can be managed; is there nursing support available all the time? Can your loved one continue seeing their GP? How will medication be managed?
Additionally, ask about visitation – in the transition period it’s likely you will need to visit your loved one frequently to help them settle in. Ask about any restrictions, and about what you can bring for them.
What to ask your loved one:
There should be open communication with your loved one about their emotional state – how they’re feeling, be it scared, nervous, unsure, or even excited. Talking through any anxieties is always the best course of action – ask them how they’re feeling about the care home, how they plan to help themselves settle in, and if they have any questions about how they can contact you.
How to Prepare:
With emergency care, it may be difficult to prepare physical items your loved one may need, but you should try to follow our suggested packing list as closely as possible.
With this in mind, discuss with your loved one when you will deliver the rest of their belongings, and ask them to keep a note of things they may realise they need as time goes on, for you to bring. Examples of this might be that they realise they need a laundry pen to mark their clothing, or some favourite snacks that they cannot source nearby.
You should also prepare with your loved one a plan for the day – the more structured your loved one feels the routine is, the less anxious they will be. You should plan this even down to the time of day when you will leave your loved one in the care of the home – this can be the hardest part, so make sure your loved one is prepared for you leaving.
During move in day, you should also try to familiarise them with the layout of the care home as much as possible. While the team will always be on hand to help with this, you should try and assist settling your loved one in too, while they learn to trust and bond with the team members.
Always being calm and reassuring towards your loved one is the number one priority – as previously mentioned, any change in situation or living arrangement may be stressful for a person, so always being calm, confident, helpful and kind will alleviate any tension or worries on your loved ones part.
When it comes to moving in, run through all the possible situations in your head and how you would deal with them – it’s best to over-prepare in these situations, so your loved one always feels in control. Although in the case of emergency care there may not be so much time to prepare physical items, you should try to help your loved one prepare emotionally. Sit down with them and have a chat about everything, from logistics, to how they’re feeling about it, to a plan for if they are not happy in care, while at the same time reminding them about the incredible facilities on offer, and running them through what their days will look like. This should reassure your loved one that the situation does not have to be distressing and should be embraced.
The last thing your loved one wants to worry about is finances. Prior to moving into the care home, financial arrangements will have been made to pay for care, but you should also talk to your loved one about their other financial agreements and obligations. In the age of digital and online banking, your loved ones may find it hard to sort out their own finances, so always offer to help, and in some cases offer to support all financial decisions. Examples of things you should discuss and sort out are; direct debits for bills of their old residence, changes of address for mobile or personal phone bills, and other things they may need to know, such as how they can pay for personal things while in care. These practical steps addressing logistical problems will help them alleviate any anxieties surrounding the move they may have.
If you have any questions or concerns about a move into care and would like to talk to one of our dedicated team, please give your nearest care home a call today.