Packing for hospital: What to take for a comfortable stay

Heading into hospital and not sure what to bring? Fear not, we’ve put together a quick list to get you started.

Preparing for a hospital stay can be overwhelming, particularly if you haven’t been before. But there are a number of things you can pack to help make your stay more comfortable. Here’s a handy checklist of some things you might want to bring with you… and what to leave behind.

Seven hospital bag must-haves

  1. Medicines. Take along all your prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and natural remedies, as well as a complete list of these to give to the hospital staff. They’ll let you know if there are any you need to stop taking before your procedure or if there are any changes to the medicines you’re taking afterwards. Note any medicines you are allergic to as well, and detail any allergic reactions you’ve had to medicines in the past – and don’t forget to mention them when you speak to your care team.
  2. Documents and paperwork. Bring your pre-filled hospital patient registration or admission form and patient health history, your Bupa membership and Medicare cards, any X-rays or medical images, specialist's letters or referrals, and information about your blood type. It’s also useful to bring a pen and paper for writing things down. A snap-closing, envelope-style folder is ideal for keeping everything in one easy-to-access place.
  3. Comfortable clothing. Pack pyjamas or lounge wear (loose fitting is best, and shortsleeved in case you need an IV line), as well as an ample supply of underwear and comfortable socks. Make sure you pack slippers, and a pair of regular shoes for walking around the hospital or going home in. Last but not least, zip-up jumpers or jackets make a handy wrap over your PJs if it gets cold.
  4. Toiletries. Bring your toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, moisturiser, deodorant, soap, body wash, shampoo, conditioner and a comb or hairbrush in a waterproof bag.
  5. Creature comforts. These are the little things that make your stay more relaxing. Grab a book you’ve been hanging out to read, glossy magazines, crossword puzzles or any hobby or craft projects you enjoy that are easily transportable. Tuck a few photos or other (non-valuable) mementos into your bag to give you comfort when and if you need it. A personal music player (don’t forget the headphones!) pre-loaded with your favourite songs or meditation recordings, or with radio capability, can also help when boredom or stress strikes. A tablet or laptop pre – loaded with movies and your favourite TV series can also be a welcome distraction. Check out your hospital’s technology policy to ensure you’ll be able to use and charge mobile phones, laptops or tablets, and remember to pack your chargers. An eye mask and earplugs might also come in handy when you’re trying to get a little shut-eye and the ward is noisy or bright.
  6. Equipment. Don’t forget your glasses, hearing aids, crutches, walkers, braces or other equipment you may need.
  7. Extras. Provided your doctor says it’s OK, you may want a supply of your favourite healthy treats and snacks. Depending on the amount of space in your bag and the length of your stay, you may also want to pack your favourite pillow and a laundry bag so relatives can take home dirty clothing between visits.

If you're feeling overwhelmed with getting everything together, you could use an app like Thrivor to get friends and family to help with packing tasks.

A tablet or laptop pre-loaded with movies and your favourite TV series can also be a welcome distraction.

Teddy Bear

 What not to bring

There are a few items you may want to leave at home, including:

  • Your valuables. Leave jewellery and other expensive items at home, though you should bring a small amount of cash or a credit card to pay for incidentals – think TV rentals and gift-shop or café purchases.
  • Anything that will need to be removed before surgery. It’s best not to put on or bring items that will need to be removed before your procedure, so skip the make-up, nail polish, artificial nails and jewellery.

While staying in hospital is unlikely to top anyone’s list of favourite things to do, bringing a few home comforts (as well as the essentials), can make for a more pleasant stay. Check out BUPA’s comprehensive guide to staying in hospital for more tips and tricks.

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