Monday, 22 August 2016

BEING READY FOR ANYTHING IN THE ER: WHAT TO PACK IN A 'GO BAG'

I’m a member of a private Facebook group called One MoreThing, or OMT. It’s a group for parents of children with disabilities, most of whom live in Canada (but all are welcome).  The Facebook group evolved out of the live One More Thing Mom’s group, an extraordinary circle of Ottawa complex care mothers, many of whom have children who are palliative (you can listen to a radio interview with them HERE).  Recently, a few of us were chiming in on Facebook about what to bring with us when our complex child or loved one has to go to hospital in an emergency. What items really come in handy for us in the ER or on the ward? Their knowledge is borne of much experience and their advice is terrific for ALL caregivers!


  • I always bring one dose of meds. That way if it's meds time, you don't have to wait for the hospital pharmacy to get them to you.
  • I bring a one-page history of the underlying condition together with a list of current medications, Health Insurance info, home address, date of birth and emergency contact information (might have to be two pages! LOL)
  • Magazines for yourself, hand cream, chap stick, note pad and paper, gum.
  • If you can get one, an extra phone charger! My phone always dies while we are in the ER.
  • Underwear for you in case your child gets admitted and you end up staying overnight... it's not bad wearing the same clothes 2 days in a row, but it's nice to have fresh undies.
  • We have a list of emergency protocols (what to do IF a certain health emergency occurs) including a recent weight (doctors need that to prescribe some drugs).
  • I keep toiletries for myself in my ER bag including shampoo so I can feel part human when they do the rounds on the ward. And extra socks and slippers for comfort.
  • Note pad, pens, contact numbers, spare glasses, footwear, pillow (the hospital ones are uncomfortable or non-existent for families!)
  • If your child is tube fed, I pack 1/2 day's supply of formula so there's enough to either get admitted or get home. Also, extra extension tubes for feeding and venting. If you don't use a standard feeding pump that matches your extension sets, bring your pump along too in case the hospital doesn't have the one you need.
  • Extra clothes for me in case of spills or cranked up air conditioning.
  • These plastic bags are great for keeping basic toiletries such as deodorant and tooth brushes. They have them for men and women at Walmart: 


  • Underwear for you and coins for the hospital washing machines (if they have them). Cash for meals and snacks in the cafeteria.
  • An eye mask so you can sleep in your bedside chair in the freezing, noisy room without being woken up by the light of the door opening... if you are lucky enough to catch a few zzzz's!
And last, but not least, remember the words "GO BAG" as you decide the immediate items needed for urgent ER visits. Pack a separate bag with 'extras' that someone can bring you the next day. As the Girl Guides always say, 'Be prepared!'

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