Our Best Cheat Sheet to a Smooth Admission
You’ve done your homework, you’ve got it all figured out and you know where your loved one is going for their rehab journey! Great! So what’s next? Next it’s time to get everything transferred over to the rehabilitation center. The good news is now you have a team holding your hand, helping you sort through everything you will need. It can still be confusing, but this removes a lot of the stress. It’s like when you do your own taxes versus having someone else do them. It can still be a lot of work to get things together, but now you can rest assured knowing that a trusted professional is taking care of all of the most confusing parts. Below is our cheat sheet for what you should bring when you have a loved one getting admitted to a rehabilitation center, what you should expect in the first few days, plus the things you should leave at home. After this, all that will be left will be to focus on your loved one’s rehab journey.
What to bring
Documents. Most of the more complicated, medical documents have been shared between the hospital and the receiving rehabilitation center. You shouldn’t need to worry about doctors’ order or health history, unless specifically asked. What you will need to bring are the following:
1. Insurance cards. Hospitals and rehab centers do not share patient’s payment information. Your rehabilitation facility will need the patient’s insurance card so they can send the bill to the right person.
2. Social Security number.
3. POLST form. This is a pink form. POLST is an acronym, and stands for “physician’s order for life sustaining treatment.” It guides medical professionals on how to treat someone in a life or death situation. If you don’t have this form you will be asked to fill one out.
4. Durable Power of Attorney form or Advanced Healthcare Directive form. If your loved one can no longer sign for themselves, the facility needs to know who is responsible for the patient’s care.
5. Immunization information, specifically for flu and pneumonia vaccines. This is helpful information to have, but if you can’t track it down (which happens often- don’t worry), the rehabilitation center will contact the patient’s primary care physician.
Personal Belongings. Now that your loved one is admitted, you want them to be comfortable so they can relax and focus on their main job: getting healthy. Here are the personal items we recommend bringing.
1. Clothes. We recommend comfy clothes because patients will be doing a lot of resting and a lot of exercising. If you’re taking advantage of the laundry services offered by the facility, we recommend about five changes of clothes. If you’re choosing to do your loved ones laundry, there’s more flexibility.
3. Undergarments- this includes socks!
4. At least two pairs of shoes. Bring a comfortable shoe that slides on and off easily for lounging (something like a good slipper), and bring another pair of shoes that are appropriate for rehab.
5. Preferred toiletries. Most facilities provide toiletries, but if your loved one has specific preferences (for example, my mom, like many women, insists on specific hair care products) bring those with you. Those little details make a big difference when you’re getting ready and re-energizing for the day.
6. Personal Items. Bring some personal items to make your loved one’s room feel homier. Have the kids make a “Get Well Soon!” poster, bring your loved one’s favorite framed pictures, a special blanket, or a few good books. Those little items help people feel more relaxed, which makes them more likely to cooperate with nurses, and gives them more energy to focus on rehab. Even if it’s just a week or two, personal items make a difference.
7. Cell phone and a cell phone charger. Make sure all of your family members’ numbers are programmed in the phone. Even if your loved one isn’t great with a cell phone, staff can normally help them make a call. Having their own phone allows patients to call from wherever, not just as nursing stations or in shared spaces (where the facility’s phones are usually located).
Things to expect
1. On Day 1 don’t expect too much. Hospitals normally discharge their patients in the evening, so patients won’t get into the rehab facility until later in the day. Day 1 is for settling in.
2. Check in your belongings. When you’re settling in and bringing over personal belongings, you’re going to need to check those items in with facility. This is to protect you in the rare chance something goes missing. The facility can only be responsible for items checked in, so be sure to be diligent in this! Labels aren’t required but are recommended, especially if the facility is going to helping with laundry services.
3. Day 2 therapy will stop by for an evaluation. This is rehab’s opportunity to meet the patient and learn more about who they’re working with. Many therapies aren’t open on Sundays, so the evaluation may come that following Monday.
4. Within 48 business hours, expect a care conference with therapy, social services, dietary, activities, and MDS. This care conference will establish a patient’s baseline prior to hospitalization and create some appropriate goals for the patient’s stay.
5. Last, the Admission paperwork must be signed within 48 business hours. If your loved one can sign for themselves, the Admissions Coordinator will meet them and take care of signatures. If you are the responsible party for your loved one’s health, you will need to sign the paperwork. This paperwork is important because it gives the facility permission to take care of your loved one. Paperwork usually doesn’t take too long, and this appointment can often be scheduled at the same time as the care conference.
Things NOT to bring.
1. Family heirlooms. Anything of value that’s irreplaceable and doesn’t need to be here, leave it at home. Every place does their best to protect your items but in the rare instance something goes missing, you don’t want it to be an irreplaceable keepsake.
2. Wads of cash. There’s almost no reason to have cash because everything should be covered by the facility. But if there’s a vending machine and your loved one has an affinity for Doritos and soda, a little cash may be helpful. If you do want to keep some cash for whatever reason, there are often employees who can help track the money and keep it safe with lock and key.
3. Bad attitude. Illness and recovery can be a long, rough journey and it’s understandable when people get fed up. Just remember that rehab facilities are here to help you, and a positive attitude is one of the most important attributes to recovery. If you do come across problems in your road to recovery while at a rehab facility, ask to speak to one of the Department Heads, the Director of Nurses, or even the Administrator and they can help solve your problems.
And that’s it. That is our cheat sheet to a smooth admissions. You will need to bring some documents and some personal items, you don’t need to bring a bunch of cash, and you should expect a few meetings to establish some good communication. Bring a good attitude and remember it’s everyone’s job at the rehab center to get your loved one healthy again. We are on your team.