We are often asked by relatives what they should pack when their loved one is moving into a residential care home. This article is intended as a guide to help you prepare with confidence.
Before your loved one moves in, it can be helpful for you to visit the particular care home they are moving to and see their new room for yourself. At Eastleigh, we have different residential and nursing homes in North Devon and Somerset.
While each room is spacious and well-furnished, the dimensions and facilities differ slightly from one to another. By visiting the room you can get a sense of the available space as well as get to ask any questions of the on-site staff.
Always ask what furniture and items are included. It’s important that if you do decide to bring items of your own furniture that they do not unduly crowd the space and form a trip hazard.
Don’t make assumptions, but do ask questions! This way you can find out what is included and what you need to pack. Good questions to ask include:
It is always difficult to pack when making the transition to a residential care home. Understandably it is hard to let go of belongings which have been gathered over a lifetime, yet it is also necessary.
Try to reassure your loved one by agreeing, among different family members, to home some of their most valuable possessions. This will help to ease the process.
Then you’ll need to consider packing items from different areas: clothing, personal care, linens, electrical items and technology, furniture, decorative items, hobbies and favourite things.
It is unlikely that your loved one will need their entire wardrobe from home. Instead, focus on clothing which is easy to put on and take off. For example, elasticated waistbands and buttoned cardigans.
It is worth packing layers as elderly residents, especially with limited mobility, can find it difficult to regulate their temperature.
Slippers are a must have item! Make sure they are well-fitting with a sturdy sole with good grip.
We also encourage residents to have a coat for outdoors. Our residential care homes in North Devon and Somerset all have lovely grounds, and being able to get out and enjoy them is a source of joy for many of our residents.
Women particularly, like to be able to keep a handbag and wear jewellery. Avoid bringing the most valuable items of jewellery where possible and choose a selection of jewellery which your relative can see easily. Of course care home staff can help with doing up clasps.
Your relative probably has their favourite toiletries. By bringing a small supply of these with them to the care home you can help them to feel more at home quicker.
Staff should keep an eye on when they are running low and arrange for replacements, or you can bring these at visiting times.
What your relative needs in terms of bedding and towels will depend on the individual care home. We can provide all bedding and towels of high quality. However, many residents like to personalise their sleeping area. We recommend doing this by using blankets and cushions.
We recommend choosing a fleecy blanket which is soft and warm yet easy to wash. Avoid complicated patterns if your loved one has any signs of dementia as patterns can cause anxiety and confusion.
Our rooms come with a TV. In addition, your loved one may like to bring a DVD player and/or a radio. Your relative may also like to have their own mobile phone, tablet or laptop. Ask the care home about connections and WiFi, if needed.
At this point, it is also worth noting that your loved one may continue to benefit from certain subscriptions whilst in a care home. An obvious example is using Audible for audiobooks.
At Eastleigh Care Homes, all functional furniture is provided. Indeed, we’ve taken great care to invest in comfortable high-quality furnishings which are suited to the needs of our residents such as wingback chairs and adjustable beds.
However, your relative may wish to bring a favourite chair or small items of furniture, such as a side table or magazine holder. This is when it is useful to have visited the room in advance of the move to see what will fit.
We really encourage your loved one to come with their unique personal and decorative items. These help enormously as your loved one settles in and makes our home their new home.
Such items include photo frames, albums, pictures and wall hangings, ornaments or the like.
It’s also important that your loved one has their favourite things with them. These differ for everyone, but any objects that prompt happy memories are valuable, whether that’s a childhood stuffed animal, a signed cricket bat or a trinket box bought by someone special.
When your loved one first moves into a care home, it can be useful to bring some of their favourite snacks along too, even a favourite tipple. Having these available to them will help them feel more in control at this time of change.
It is our goal to provide plenty of stimulation and opportunities for socialisation within our residential and nursing homes through a varied programme. However, there are stretches of time when residents can read, play games, watch TV or do other hobbies.
Therefore it is important that residents have the items needed to do their own appropriate hobbies. For example, they may want to bring along knitting or a craft project they enjoy. This includes organising for subscriptions to newspapers or magazines to come to the home.
There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to packing to go into a care home. Consider the likes and preferences of your loved one as well as space. In addition to the items above, you should also consider packing some additional items.
Your loved one will also probably appreciate you packing a notepad and a few pens. A diary or calendar, with birthdays and visits marked can be helpful too. Some of our residents like to have a visitor book which can help them remember the time spent together.
If your loved one uses a mobility aid then of course, this should go with them. Make sure you also pack medical equipment, hearing aids (and batteries), glasses and similar items. Do hand medicines over to the staff on arrival.
Where possible, it is worth labelling items as then we can safely return them to the correct owner if they are left in communal areas of the home.
If you’ve chosen a good care home then the staff will be more than willing to support you and their new resident at this time of transition. They can help you refine your packing list and make suggestions. This should be a good indication for you of how much they will care for your loved one going forwards.