How to prepare for the day of admission

Here is a list of practical things that will need to be undertaken when your family member is admitted to residential care.

Take care of the practical things

Try to organise some of these in advance to relieve stress at the time of admission - family or friends may be able to help. The tasks ahead include:

  • Labelling all clothing and equipment
  • Engraving dentures and glasses - things that can't be labelled
  • Organising change of address
  • Sorting out financial and/or legal arrangements
  • Organising a new GP if the current GP can't continue the care
  • Writing a summary of the things you think the facility will need to know - take this with you on the day of admission
  • Sorting out which personal possessions and furniture to take.

You may also like to help your family member develop a 'life history' by choosing photos and captions to include in a photo album. This could be helpful to your family member, staff and other residents as they are getting to know one another. It's often a great conversation starter.

Help your family member to ease into the idea 

Where possible, involving your family member in finding the 'right' residential care facility is the best way to help them ease into the idea.  

Here are some other suggestions from carers and families:

  • Involve your family member in choosing which personal items to take or shopping for items they need
  • Talk about continuing regular routines and activities they enjoy (e.g. having the paper delivered daily or visiting grandchildren)
  • Arrange visits to your preferred facilities together. Meet the staff and other residents - perhaps go for lunch or activities
  • Use day respite if available. If your family member is currently at home, day respite may help them feel more comfortable about the move - and give you a short break
  • Use residential respite. Your family member and the staff will get to know each other which can make the permanent move a little easier later on.
Take care of yourself, too

Organising the admission forces you to deal with the reality of what's ahead. This will evoke a range of different feelings and meanings for both you and your family member. Grief is a normal reaction.

Carers give the following advice:

  • Be aware of how difficult this situation can be for you both
  • Know that admission can happen fast. Often a decision is needed within 2-4 hours of a vacancy being offered, with admission occurring within days
  • Know that if your family member is in hospital, they could be transferred immediately to a vacancy at any of your preferred facilities. Ask the facilities to notify you first, so you can support your family member
  • Seek your GP's advice and support
  • Learn and use relaxation
  • Consider carer counselling to help you through this.

Carers who have been through this believe that by taking care of yourself, you will find the energy needed to deal with some of the difficult tasks ahead.

For more information, read the fact sheet titled, The day of admission - what to expect.