written by Andrea Leebron-Clay, Owner of Nightingale Healthcare


Okay, we know you don’t want to go, but maybe you need a little extra rehab or don’t have anyone to stay with you 24/7 after surgery. All skilled nursing facilities have a cumbersome admission process that has many different people asking the same questions when you aren’t really at your best. Somewhere in the pile of papers you are given, there’s a list of stuff you should bring with you, but you may not feel like reading it. Besides, you probably haven’t had time, since your hospital social worker gave you only a couple hours notice to figure out what to do and where to go, then your transportation arrived and you were out the door to a place you told your family you’d rather not be.

On that list of stuff you should bring are the usual things:

  • Work-out clothes or sweat pants that are easy to put on but give you a little dignity
  • Good shoes with solid soles (not slippers)
  • PJs and robe
  • Your glasses, hearing aids, or whatever accommodations you use at home to help you operate better, and so on
  • If you shave, bring an electric razor, even if you don’t normally use one – that way you can do things for yourself that will help you feel a little more independent

And somewhere in the fine print, you are advised to write your name on all your stuff so that when it goes missing, we can get it back to you.

“Bringing a few of the comforts of home, whether it’s a favorite pillow or quilt, will help you get better faster…and get back where you want to be.”

Here are things that aren’t on the list but may make your stay a little nicer…

  • Bring your iPod or MP3 player with your favorite music and a good set of head phones (you can also download books to listen to). If you don’t have one, ask your grandkids to bring you one and have them help you load it with what you might like to listen to.
  • If you are a computer tablet user, bring that. You can download games, brain exercises, emails, follow your facility on Facebook, and otherwise, keep yourself engaged, active and in touch with the world you are missing.
  • Maybe you have a smart phone? Bring whatever mobile device you use because although your room may come with a phone, it won’t have all the numbers you usually use and your family will find it easier to keep in touch, too.
  • Bring a picture of family, friend, and/or pet–whoever will most motivate you to get better and get home.
  • Ask your family to bring your knitting, crocheting, scrapbooking, jewelry making, musical instrument (every place has a piano, so don’t worry about bringing in a keyboard) – whatever gives you pleasure when you have time or inclination to get around to it. If you can’t manage those things just now, be sure to let the activity staff know so we can find similar activities to keep you occupied in ways that are meaningful and therapeutic for you.
  • Personally, I never go anywhere without a head lamp. People may laugh at me, but I can read or answer emails, surf the net, or whatever, without disturbing my husband. You may have a roommate who despite the privacy curtain, complains about any light. Head lamps are available just about anywhere that sells flashlights and they are most helpful when a little extra light is needed. Don’t worry about feeling like a crazed miner. Once everyone sees how nice it is to see hands-free, they won’t be laughing.
  • About the television…many facilities have headphones you can borrow for the television so as not to bother others. If you have them, bring them and we’ll set you up.
    Likewise, if you have a library card, bring it. Library volunteers are in every week and you can check out both audio books and large print books from them.

Here are a few things NOT to bring…

  • No matter how much of a coffee snob you are, don’t bring your Kuerig or coffee maker. We have regulations about temperatures of liquids and ratings of electronics so you likely aren’t going to be able to use it.
  • Don’t bring in your prescriptions from home. We’re not trying to make you buy more medicine, but again, our regulations require we order your medicine so that we know it is what the label says, the expiration date and so on.
  • Don’t bring in food or liquor. You may or may not be able to keep your favorites in your room, but again, regulations require we check with your doctor before we can let you enjoy your favorite ‘guilty pleasure.’
  • Most facilities have ‘no smoking rules.’ It’s not just a good idea, it’s the law. This is a great time to quit, but if you can’t, your doctor can order patches or other aids to help you get through your stay. If you happen to be a marijuana user, don’t bring that either. We have to operate under federal guidelines, so regardless of Washington State law, we can’t accommodate you.
  • Keep your money, your expensive jewelry, your credit cards or things of that nature at home. All facilities have a safe in which you can lock things if you need, but best to have someone take them home. Be sure to record what went home too, because being ‘under the weather’ can play havoc with memory, and your family and friends may have so much on their minds, they may not recall either. Keeping a notebook and pen by your bed are handy for reminders for you and/or your visitors to note what goes home, what comes in from home, and helps keep track of flowers, guests, staff names or questions you’d like to ask your doctor or nurse.


Mt. Baker Care Center (Bellingham, WA)

Mt. Baker Care Center (Bellingham, WA)

Having to spend a few extra weeks with us in a skilled nursing facility may seem like a step backward, but it often is the best way to make sure that you don’t end up back at the hospital. Bringing a few of the comforts of home, whether it’s a favorite pillow or quilt, will help you get better faster…and get back where you want to be.

Happy Healing!