Going into hospital for a minor procedure, planned surgery, or for medical tests is a stressful experience. However, this article offers some tips on how you can lessen that stress, by preparing in advance for an overnight (or longer) hospital stay.
How much preparation is needed will depend on why you are going to hospital and how long you are expected to stay. Things to consider include financial arrangements, asking someone to take care of your home and/or pets, and putting a living will or power of attorney in place. The hospital should advise you of anything you need to do (or not do) before your visit, such as food and drink restrictions.
What to Take
When it comes to packing for a hospital stay, you will want to take things to help make you more comfortable, such as nightclothes (including a robe), loungewear, and slippers. You will also want to pack a selection of basic personal care items, such as a hairbrush, toothbrush, and essential toiletries. An eye mask and earplugs might also be useful, as will some reading material, and possibly a cheap music player or radio with headphones. You should also bring along any medications you take.
What Not to Take
Equally important is what to leave at home. This list will include valuables, as there may not be a place to store items securely. Consider a cheap, pre-paid phone, rather than taking your smartphone. You should also leave jewelry at home, not just over security concerns, but because it can encourage infection. Although you will likely need access to money while you’re in hospital, only bring the bare minimum you’ll need for food and incidentals.
What to Expect on Arrival
On arrival, you should check in with reception. You might need to bring certain paperwork, such as your appointment letter and financial or insurance documents (if relevant). You will then be shown to your bed and given some time to get settled. If you’re in a shared room or a hospital ward, your bed should be separated from those of other patients with medical curtains. These are designed to be pulled around the open three sides of each bed, to screen the occupant during medical examinations. You can also pull these partially across for some privacy.
Ensure you have suitable clothes for going home. If you’re just going to hospital for tests, the clothes you wore in might be fine. However, if you’re having surgery, you might need to wear loose-fitting clothes that do not rub on the incision. Depending on your reason for being in hospital, the staff may require you to be picked up. For example, patients who have had a general anesthetic may need extra support. Likewise, this could be the case if you have an operation or procedure that impairs movement or are given certain medications. If you’re likely to need transport or a helper, ask someone reliable ahead of time.
Hopefully, this article has shown that with some planning, your hospital stay can be made more comfortable, so you can focus on your health and recovery.