Family caregivers often feel unprepared to care for a loved one coming home for hospice. The hospice plan of care outlines home medical supplies, medications, visit schedules and caregiver education.
To be well-prepared, a hospice admissions nurse also recommends the following home care supplies to get started.
- Two sets of twin sheets
- Under-pads; disposable or made of cloth
- Extra pillow for comfort and positioning
- Baby or adult wipes
- Adult briefs (diapers), ideally the tab type
- Baby monitor or small bell for the hospice patient to alert others when they need help
- Thermometer, ideally the temporal or forehead type so the patient is not disturbed
- Bendable straws, if they are allowed and patient does not have swallowing issues
- Protein drinks or protein powder to add to fruit smoothies
- Mild or bland food, including applesauce, oatmeal, cream of wheat, yogurt, pudding or bananas
- Distilled or bottled water for the oxygen concentrator humidifier bottle, if oxygen is used
- Night lights for the room and hallways
- Small wastebasket with trash liners for the bedside
- Handheld shower hose
- Nightgown or night shirt, ideally loose, comfortable, made of cotton and without pant legs
Rebecca Ross, a volunteer in Willingboro, N.J., encourages caregivers to give hospice patients what they need, rather than what they want.
Joseph S. Wadas, bereavement coordinator and chaplain in Savannah, Georgia, offers ways to overcome the challenges of hospice caregiving at home.