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How to prepare for your hospital stay

Here is some advice on getting organised, preparing your home for your recovery, and a list of essential items to pack.

At Medibank, we know that going to hospital can be a challenging time. So we hope this collection of information and advice on your hospital stay helps you have a safe and comfortable stay, and a strong recovery.

Most people will find being admitted to hospital challenging—but there are things you can do to reduce the stress and make your return home easier. Here are some tips to help you prepare for your hospital stay.

Get yourself organised

Being as organised as possible can help make your recovery easier. Here are some ways you can prepare for your hospital stay.

  • Organise support. If you live alone, try to arrange for someone to stay with you for a week or so after you get home from hospital if you think you may need some support. If you don’t have a support system you can rely on, talk to your doctor or a healthcare professional about the type of support you may be able to access.
  • Plan ahead. Depending on what you are in hospital for, there may be certain activities you can’t do once you get home – like lifting heavy items, driving or walking.  Ask your doctor or health care team what type of home care services, aids and equipment you may be able to organise to make life easier. You could also contact your local council to find out about services and support in your area.
  • Be flexible. Your needs may change during your hospital stay. Even if you’re planning to recover at home, it’s important to be prepared for all possibilities, including an extended rehabilitation period in hospital.
  • Organise cover at work.  The last thing you want is to be stressing about work when you should be focusing on recovering. Talk with your doctor to get an idea when they think you might realistically be back at work. Discuss with your manager to ensure a smooth return to work.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Ask your family and friends to help—and accept their offers! Having more support will make the recovery process easier.

Prepare your house

Use the days leading up to your hospital admission, make your home as safe and comfortable as possible for your recovery.

  • Fall-proof it. Look around for potential hazards such as long cords or rugs you could trip on and get them out of the way. You may need to rearrange furniture to make it easier to get around on crutches, or with a walker.
  • Set up a comfy space. Set up an area where you will spend a lot of time as you recover. Place items that you know you use regularly, such as the phone or a remote control, within easy arm-level reach so you don’t have to bend down to get them. Pick chairs with arms and high, firm seats so you can push yourself up out of them relatively easily.
  • Modify the bathroom. You may need modifications such as a shower chair, a non-slip mat, a grip rail etc. Talk to your GP, or if you are over 65. Visit www.myagedcare.gov.au to find out what services are available in your area.
  • Stock up your freezer. Prepare extra food and freeze it so you’ll have healthy ready-made meals available. Try these two great freezer friendly recipes for mushroom ragu and pumpkin and lentil soup.
  • Attack the washing. Do all the laundry before going to hospital and make sure you have lots of comfortable clothing set aside for your recovery time.

What to pack

Finally, pack all of the things you’ll need for your hospital stay. Remember to take:

  • Your medications. Take them in their original boxes or containers if possible, and hand them to nursing staff so they can give them to you in the right doses during your stay. Any that you don’t use will be returned when you are discharged.
  • Comfortable clothing. Sleepwear, a dressing gown and day clothes that are easy to get on and off, such as tracksuit pants and loose tops.
  • Footwear. Take a pair of slippers and a pair of comfortable day shoes that are easy to get on and off, with non-slip soles if possible.
  • Results of any recent tests such as x-rays and scans.
  • Mobility aids if you require them, such as crutches or a walking frame.
  • Glasses and hearing aids if you wear them, to improve communication in hospital.
  • Toiletries. Pack soap, a toothbrush and toothpaste and hairbrush. A moisturising cream can be a good idea, as some people find hospital environments can dry out their skin.
  • Something to do to pass the time such as books, magazines, a computer tablet or laptop.
  • A small amount of money for buying a newspaper and other low-cost items.

Do you have more questions?

Where possible Medibank will ring members to check in and offer support and information before and after their procedure. All Medibank members can also call a nurse with any health question, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our nurses can help in the lead up to your hospital stay, as well answer any recovery and rehab queries you have when you get home. To speak to a Medibank Nurse call 1800 644 325.

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