Took care of my mother for 2 years at home before she died. Learned a heck of a lot. Being ‘out there’, there were no hospice people available to help. A visiting nurse every 2 weeks taught me what to do.
Lessons learned (in no particular order) about:
The Room Itself
-best for all if near center of activity. Makes caring for patient easier; makes patient feel less alone and abandoned
-if possible room should have tile or wood floor for easy cleaning and disinfecting. Long-term, terminal patient care can be messy as he**
– adequate ventilation – illness has an odor
-windows and good light are a bonus. Gives patient something to do (watch, look, talk about, i.e. weather or what have you) and you will need to perform some things that require good light to see
-visit thrift stores where these things collect and are very cheap and store them (not just for terminal patients) to equip the room:
-rolling, adjustable height tray table for patient feeding, use, your use to hold supplies during procedures
– crutches, walkers and canes – avoid falls and more complications (these will be very useful in SHTF in general – sadly I have my own large supply from previous injuries already – walkers are preferable IMHO if you have to choose)
– urinal and bed pan
– toilet seat with handles when patient is still able to get out of bed but can not travel far (also helps them feel more ‘normal’).
– several small buckets (you will be surprised how many times you will want one – especially when giving bed baths)
-large, tall plastic trash can with lid to hold all the trash. Be sure to burn or bury medical waste (used gauze, bandages etc)
-a chef’s bib apron with pockets or a smock.
– a small, curved tray (don’t know the name) that fits under patients chin. They can brush teeth if bed ridden and spit out the fluid – and useful for mild vomiting
– scissors – sharp, long, thin blade
– large stacks of either cheap wash cloths or get a bag of painters or auto mechanic cotton rags. Usually white or blue. Use one set (color) for patient care; the other set (color) for cleaning/disinfecting so you don’t mix up the 2 and contribute to potential contamination
– a roll of thick plastic. This can be used under the patient that is incontinent to protect the mattress of whatever they are lying on. Try to invest in the larger, specifically made ‘adult incontinence pads’ – they are baby blanket size and wick moisture away.
– a covered jar or container of large, single head cotton swabs for applying ointments, cleaning out orifices
– a covered box or container of large gauze pads for cleaning up all manner of bodily things of an ill person
– kleenex or something else you can use and dispose of
– unscented talc – helps dry out and soothe skin in areas that are prone to being subjected to moisture during an illness or incontinence, and under breasts for patients with high fever
– unscented moisturizer – (peanut oil is close to skin oil in make up if no commercial product like Nivea is available) – patients skin will dry out and so will your hands you keep washing
– pump bottle of hand sanitizer or similar – keep your hands and patient hands clean
– spray bottle of alcohol, or disinfecting cleaner. Wipe down everything as often as possible (whole other post could be made of that)
– mop and bucket (be sure and disinfect and clean both the mop and the bucket after each use and dry thoroughly or you risk just re-contaminating or spreading germs wherever else you use them)
– bobby pins or hairdresser style spring hair clips – come in handy for many things including keeping patients hair out of face and holding back bed garments
-consider making or buying a few hospital type gowns. really do make patient care much easier than a Tshirt or other ‘normal’ clothes.
-several sets of sheets (top sheets only are easiest – change, clean/disinfect and rotate often and, unfortunately it will sometimes be several times a day)
– blankets and comforters – cotton and wool are best
– a foam ‘bed wedge’ – an angled piece of wide foam to put behind the patient to elevate the trunk of their body if you don’t have a hospital bed with electricity – so they don’t choke when they eat or take medicine
– a covered container of fresh, clean water and ideally disposable cups
– a roll (find usually in paint dept area of Home Depot) of 2 or 4″ wide, self adhesive, gritted tape. Use this, cut in strips, placed in rows, on the floor on the side of the bed a patient will get out of (if ambulatory) and in front of any sink or toilet. This will help prevent slips and falls that would make the situation worse. Patients are usually barefoot or have socks on – if fevered or ‘out of it’, unstable – big help.
– a wind up timer like you use in a kitchen or a small electronic one. Some treatments must be timed. Also helps when counting breaths per minute and more
– cards, puzzle books etc – something for conscious, able patient to DO. throw them all out when well or they pass away.
– cheap, individually packed ear plugs and a washable eye mask. Helps patients rest better during the day when they need to, is daylight and household is active
– lots of sponges and softer, personal care sponges like sea sponges for giving bed baths
Will try and write what learned about
1) Patient Care – General
2) Patient Care – Terminal
3) How to Disinfect a Sick Room
4) How to Tell When Someone is About to Die and What to Do Afterwards
in future, time permitting. Meantime – every one else feel free to do that too. Selco would probably know best. Mine info is from my experiences only. Now have 91 yr old father here. Soon to be a repeat no doubt.
Hope it helps someone.