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Your hospital caregiver checklist

Recently, my family and I were in the role of hospital caregiver for our mother.  Those of us in my family that work in the “medical world” have now been “on the other side.” We could not read her medical record ourselves; and along with our siblings, we had to wait for the doctors to visit Mom with updates and relied on hospital food (for our mom and, for us, the cafeteria).  We all have learned patience and how to survive a hospital stay!


The caregiver’s checklist:


  1. Advocate for your loved one: We were lucky that someone could sit with Mom from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm. Dad was able to come and go and rest as he needed. With all the various physicians and allied health staff visiting the room, it can get really confusing on what the actual care plan is!
  2. Bring paper and pen: Jot down questions you and your loved one may have.  Keep track of the important information so it is easier to communicate (we sent out emails during our visits so the other family members were up to date). Keep track of when to ask for the meal tray (of course, important to me!) and the next pain medication.
  3. Bring the list of medications, diet or any special formula/formula recipe/medicines: Arrive prepared.  Keep the list in your purse or baby bag.  Bringing this special information ensures continuity of care. If your child is on an unusual formula, bring a day’s supply with you.
  4. Rest for all: This of course is for the loved one, but also for the family.  All involved need to take care of themselves!
  5. Bring money and snacks: Cafeteria food and parking can cost! As a family, we participated in the 10 tokens for $10. At every visit, Mom made sure we had our token (and we contributed our $1). Bring food for your loved one or the family member you are relieving.  Bring snacks and bottled water (use drinking fountains for refills). If you know of a patient visiting Dayton Children’s, you may purchase a hospital gift card to be delivered to their room – this will help defray family meal costs.  Just call Dayton Children’s operator (937-641-3000) and ask for the Gift Shop to assist you with this request.


I pray you don’t find yourself visiting a loved one in the hospital soon.  But, keep these tips in mind for just in case.  What other helpful tips have worked for you?


  1. Reply
    Kim-Rae Ketcham November 8, 2014

    As both a parent, daughter and speech-language pathologist, I recommend to patients, friends, and families to have a common “diary” book for the communication of information that occurs during the day between the change of shifts of family members. If more than one family member is coming in and out and trying to keep track of medication changes, updates of labs, recommendations by the doctors or changes of diagnosis, etc. Having a common log or diary present in the patient’s room can help immensely if it is kept at bedside so that the information is readily handy for the patient, the other members of the family to have handy to check information when they come in and out. It also is a place to write questions for the doctor that need asked when there are several family members attempting to catch the doctor as they are making rounds at different times during the day. This way the questions may be asked by more than one person and the answers can be saved for each other and shared later. It has saved many discussions and questions when the patient is too tired to remember and there are several people interested in varying aspects of the illness. 

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