If you or someone you know has ever been confined at a hospital, you know how extended stays can take a toll on patients and their families. Those waiting to recover might find their stay to be quite dull, while those anticipating medical procedures can get wrapped up in anxiety.
Although medical situations are often uncertain, getting the right care and packing the right items for extended stays can make a difference in a patient’s overall well-being. With this, you may want to consider a leading hospital with adequate care facilities and highly skilled staff to make hospital stays as reasonable as possible. As one study suggests, length of hospital stay (LOS) is a key indicator of efficient hospital management, high quality of care, and overall good delivery of medical services. As such, it’s also important for family members to decide on a facility that can provide timely medical services and make extended stays as comfortable as can be.
In Singapore, the reasons for prolonged hospital stays include surgical interventions, ongoing medical treatment, and intravenous chemotherapy/radiotherapy needs. Some procedures such as intravenous antibiotics delivery are now treated as day procedures, eliminating the need for a longer hospital stay.
Whatever the reason may be for your extended stay, the items that you bring should be able to make the experience a lot more comfortable. With that in mind, here are some of the essentials to pack when extended stays seem to be inevitable.
As much as possible, you need to keep all of your items inside a spacious yet ready-to-go bag. Normally, a regular carry-on bag would suffice for all your essentials. Just make sure that the bag can be locked for an added layer of security and labeled with your name in case it gets misplaced.
Blankets, Pillows, and Comforting Items
Hospitals tend to be cold and sterile, so it’s vital to bring items that exude the familiarity of home. Make sure to pack soft pillows and blankets—in particular, thick blankets such as knit, crocheted, and quilted blankets. On top of bed-related items, it would help to bring fuzzy socks and plushies, especially if the patient is a child.
Toiletries and Personal Items
Personal hygiene is incredibly important, especially when staying at a hospital where there is a higher risk of acquiring infectious diseases. That said, you may need to bring toiletries such as:
- Toothbrush, toothpaste, and denture cream (as needed)
- Shampoo and conditioner
- Sanitary items like tampons, sanitary pads, and diapers (especially if you’re giving birth)
- Eyeglasses or contact lenses
- Cologne or perfume
Some hospitals provide personal care kits, but it’s always a good idea to come prepared in case the provided care kit is not enough. If you’re a light sleeper, you may want to bring an eye mask and earplugs as well. To freshen up your face before getting discharged or ahead of visits, you may want to bring minimal amounts of makeup and cosmetics.
Most of the time, you won’t know how long a hospital stay can be. To prevent family members from constantly going back and forth to bring clothes, make sure to bring an ample supply of day clothes, outdoor clothes, and sleepwear for extra measure. Be sure that the clothes are loose-fitting and don’t forget to pack lots of underwear.
For extended stays due to labor, it would be ideal to bring post-birth items such as nursing pajamas, nursing bras, breast pads, and baby clothes.
Electronics and Entertainment Items
Getting entertained is just as important as recuperating on a hospital bed. Before heading to the hospital, make sure to bring items such as a phone, tablet, e-reader, small gaming consoles, headphones or earphones, and the necessary device chargers. You may want to bring a compact extension cord as well, especially if the electrical outlets cannot be accessed conveniently from the bed.
Aside from providing entertainment, gadgets can also keep you connected with loved ones and stave off feelings of loneliness. Of course, if you intend to bring electronics to the hospital, you need to be mindful of your belongings at all times. If you’re going to share a room with a stranger, bring only the gadgets that are absolutely necessary.
To while away the hours, you may also want to bring books, magazines, or puzzle books. If you feel extra crafty, you can bring a sketchbook, a journal, coloring books, or knitting items
Medicine, Water, and Snacks
Even if the hospital has an in-house pharmacy, it’s still a good idea to bring over-the-counter (OTC) medicines for minor ailments such as headaches or colds. It’s also ideal to consult with your doctor first on the kind of medicines to bring and when to take them.
In addition, it’s best to check the hospital’s guidelines when bringing outside food and beverages. Consider bringing single-serve meals to avoid waste and don’t let perishable foods remain inside the room for too long. It would also be ideal to label food items, especially when you’re sharing rooms with other patients.
Pack Smart for Longer Days
A good, reliable hospital is usually well-equipped to provide patients with anything they need throughout an extended stay. Still, it’s best to be prepared by packing items that provide comfort, maintain well-being, give nourishment, and deliver entertainment. Aside from the items in this list, you may want to bring important health documents as well as small decorative plants or flowers (subject to the hospital’s guidelines) and pictures of family and friends to brighten up the atmosphere.
No matter what your medical need may be, a hospital stay doesn’t have to be dreary. In the end, the most important thing is to bring the essentials for ensuring function, replenishment, and dignity throughout a prolonged hospital stay.