When a loved one is admitted to a skilled nursing facility, it can be difficult to know what to bring and what not to bring. You want your loved ones to feel comfortable in their new surroundings, but you also don’t want to forget anything important. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in this situation. In this article, we will provide you with a checklist of what to bring with you and what to leave at home. This information can help make the transition smoother for everyone involved.

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What To Expect When Checking In To A Skilled Nursing Facility

A skilled nursing facility is a place where people who are recovering from an injury or fall go after a recent hospital stay. Guests at skilled nursing facilities have medical staff available to them for support and assistance. These facilities offer a variety of other services, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

Before your loved one checks into their skilled nursing facility, you will need to complete some paperwork. This paperwork will include their medical history, insurance information, and contact information for you and other family members. Make sure you bring any medications that your loved one is taking. 

The things you can expect when checking in to a skilled nursing facility vary depending on the facility. However, most will require you to leave behind any large items such as furniture or appliances. You should also bring your loved one’s personal belongings, such as clothing and toiletries.

It is important to remember that there are some things you cannot bring with you to a skilled nursing facility. These items include firearms, illegal drugs, and alcohol. Pets are also not allowed in most skilled nursing facilities.

We will go into more detail about what your loved ones can and cannot bring with them to a skilled nursing facility. However, it’s important to remember that living in a skilled nursing facility is much different than living at home. Although we want you to feel comfortable and at home. there are certain rules and regulations that must be followed and your loved one will need to get used to the new environment.

Therefore, it pays to be prepared in this situation. By knowing and understanding what is allowed and what is not, you can help make the transition smoother for your loved one.

What Your Environment Might Look Like

Although skilled nursing facilities offer hospital-level care that does not mean they are hospitals. They are more like a cross between a hospital and a nursing home. In general, skilled nursing facilities provide long-term care for people who need constant medical attention and cannot be cared for at home.

Skilled nursing facilities usually have private or semi-private rooms. Most of the time, each room has its own bathroom. Meals are served in a common dining area, and there are usually several common areas where residents can socialize or watch television.

The environment in skilled nursing facilities is designed to be as home-like as possible. This way, residents feel more comfortable and relaxed. The goal of skilled nursing facilities is to help residents maintain as much of their independence as possible with guarantees that there is always someone available to help with activities of daily living, medication management, and anything else that might be needed.

What To Ask Your Facility

Of course, you need to ask a couple of questions before you or your loved one moves in. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What is the average length of stay?
  • Is there a minimum length of stay requirement?
  • What type of health insurance do you accept?
  • Do you provide private rooms, and if so, what is the cost?
  • What are the visiting hours?
  • Can family and friends bring food and gifts?

You should also ask about what services are provided. Here are some common skilled nursing facility services:

  • Medication management 
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Speech therapy
  • Wound care
  • Diabetic care
  • IV therapy

By asking these questions, you can get a better understanding of what to expect during your or your loved one’s stay. You will also be able to plan and prepare accordingly. The answers you will get will also help set your expectations in terms of what your loved one will need to bring to the facility.

What to bring and what not to bring to a skilled nursing facility

What to BringWhat Not To Bring
Clothes & accessoriesPets
Personal care itemsPerishable food items
Bedding & linenLarge sums of money
ElectronicsExpensive jewelry
DecorationsKnives, scissors, or other sharp objects
Favorite itemsFlammable liquids
HobbiesTobacco products
Medication & medical equipment
Miscellaneous items

See detailed descriptions below.

What To Leave At Home (Do Not Bring These Items)

Skilled nursing facilities are great places to recover and receive treatment, but they are not home. There are a few things that you should leave at home and not bring with you. These items include:


Most skilled nursing facilities do not allow pets. If you have a pet, make arrangements for someone to take care of them while you are away. However, there are skilled nursing facilities that allow certain pets, such as service animals.

Perishable food items

The facility will provide meals for residents. You do not need to bring your own food.

Large sums of money

You should not bring large sums of cash with you to the facility. If you need to bring money, keep it in a safe place like a lockbox.

Expensive jewelry

These items are best left at home. They can be damaged or stolen while you are in the facility.

Knives, scissors, or other sharp objects

These items are not allowed in the facility for safety reasons. These items can be used as a weapon to hurt someone.

Flammable liquids

These items are not allowed in the facility for safety reasons. They can be used to start a fire.

Tobacco products

Many skilled nursing facilities are tobacco-free. You will not be able to smoke inside the facility or on the grounds. This includes cigarettes, cigars, pipes, and chewing tobacco. E-cigarettes are also usually not allowed. Check with the facility before you bring any tobacco products with you.

What To Bring With You

It’s important to make your loved one’s stay in a skilled nursing facility as comfortable as possible. Therefore, you should make sure that your loved ones bring the following items with them:

Clothes and accessories

There are important considerations to keep in mind when packing clothes for a skilled nursing facility. Make sure that the clothes are comfortable and easy to put on and take off. Also, make sure to pack weather-appropriate clothing.

  • You’ll want to make sure that your loved one has comfortable sets of clothes to wear. This includes socks, underwear, shirts, pants, and shoes. This will come in handy when they do physical therapy. It’s important to make sure that the clothing is comfortable and easy to put on and take off. You’ll also want to make sure that the clothing is appropriate for the climate of the skilled nursing facility.
  • Make sure your loved ones bring clothes for cold weather and hot weather. Even though the temperature in the facility may be comfortable, they may experience different temperatures outside.
  • If your loved one wears glasses or contacts, make sure they bring their prescription and contact case. If they wear hearing aids, make sure they bring them along, too.
  • Accessories are considered important to bring, as well. This includes items such as a watch, necklace, or bracelet. These can help your loved one feel more comfortable and at home in the new environment.
  • Women should be allowed to bring their purses with them while men should be allowed to bring their wallets with them. Even if your loved one doesn’t plan on using them, it can be comforting for them to have these personal items with them.

Personal care items

Each person has specific preferences when it comes to personal care items like shampoo, soap, perfume, etc. Seniors are no exception. Therefore, you need to make sure that your loved one brings their favorite personal items with them. By packing their favorite products and brands, they will feel more comfortable and at home in the new environment.

  • Staff at skilled nursing facilities are responsible for informing family members when their loved ones are running low on personal items so that they can restock as needed.
  • Using their favorite brands and products will help your loved ones feel safer and more comfortable even if they are in a new environment. Therefore, it’s important to pack some of their favorite personal care items for them.

Bedding & linen

  • Skilled nursing facilities will provide your loved one with bedding, but it’s a good idea to bring some of their own favorite linens if you’d like. This will help them feel more comfortable in their new surroundings.
  • You can also pack colorful and patterned blankets and throws to help brighten up their space.
  • Packing a lap blanket that your loved one can use while sitting in a chair is also a good idea.
  • Make sure that all the bedclothes and linen that you pack for your loved one are machine washable. This way, they can be easily laundered at the facility.


  • There are rooms in skilled nursing facilities that do not come with a TV. In this case, you can bring a small TV and DVD player for your loved one. You might also want to bring your loved one’s favorite electronics with them. This can include things like an iPad or a laptop. Just make sure to label all of the electronics with your loved one’s name.
  • If your loved one shares a room with another resident, make sure to provide wireless earphones so that they can watch TV or listen to music without disturbing their roommate.
  • Ask the skilled nursing facility if your loved one is allowed to bring an extension cord. Normally, extension cords are not allowed in the facility because they pose a fall or trip risk. However, there are exceptions such as when a resident has a medical device that needs to be plugged in.
  • If the facility offers Wi-Fi access for a fee, you can bring your loved one’s smartphone. This way, they can stay connected with friends and family. Just make sure to inform your loved one to not share any personal information online to avoid scams.
  • If you bring electronics for your loved one, it’s best to label all of them. You can use GPS locators for each electronic device so that the facility can easily find them if they get misplaced. You should also take note of the serial numbers of all the devices in case they need to be reported lost or stolen.


Decorations liven up a room and make it feel more like home. You can bring pictures of family and friends, as well as any mementos that would make your loved one feel comfortable. Just be sure to check with the facility first to see if there are any restrictions on what you can bring.

  • You can plan decorations for special occasions like holidays or birthdays. You can coordinate with the nursing staff to make sure that your loved one gets to enjoy the celebration.
  • You can also bring flowers to brighten up the room. Just make sure to pick flowers that are low-maintenance or artificial. Flowers will help to brighten up the room and make it feel more like home.

Favorite items

The goal of skilled nursing facilities is to make sure that their patients are comfortable. So, it is important to bring items from home that will make your loved one feel more comfortable.

Your loved one’s favorite things will make his or her room feel more like home. For example, you can bring a favorite pillow, blanket, or piece of clothing. You can also bring pictures from home and favorite books or magazines.

  • Family pictures can be placed on a bulletin board to help ease loneliness for your loved one. You can also bring a photo album or a scrapbook that your loved one will have fun browsing through. It would help if you add simple descriptions of each photo so that your loved one can reminisce about good times.
  • You can also bring other treasured items such as stuffed dolls or animals, favorite snacks, or a favorite mug. Just make sure to check with the nursing staff first to make sure that these items are allowed.
  • Some common things that you should NOT bring include fragile items like glass or expensive china, electric blankets, and weapons. These things pose a threat to your loved one and the other residents. Also, don’t bring anything that can be used as a weapon, like a knife or scissors.


Bringing your loved one’s favorite hobby can help keep them entertained and stimulated. This could be something as simple as a deck of cards or a crossword puzzle book, or something more complex like a model car kit or painting supplies.

These items will help make passing the days in a skilled nursing facility a little more bearable for your loved one. Just make sure to check with the staff before bringing in any large or heavy items.

  • If your loved one has a newspaper or magazine subscription, bring those along as well. The staff can help ensure that your loved one gets their daily dose of reading material.
  • You should bring your loved one’s favorite books. However, there are skilled nursing facilities that have a library that they can use.
  • If your loved one loves knitting or crocheting, make sure to bring their supplies. They can use these supplies to make new friends or work on a project for a local charity.
  • Puzzle books and puzzle pieces are a great way to keep your loved one’s mind active if they love this hobby. Make sure to pack these things securely for your loved ones so they don’t lose them.
  • If your loved one loves to write letters or stories, make sure to bring plenty of stationery. They can use this to write to friends and family or work on a memoir.

Medication & medical equipment

Of course, you need to bring your loved one’s medication and any medical equipment they will need. This includes things like oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, and walkers. Medications and equipment can take up a lot of space, so be sure to pack them in an easily accessible place.

Skilled nursing facilities will have nurses on staff to help with medication and medical equipment, but it’s always good to have some extra supplies just in case.

Miscellaneous items

There are other things that you may want to bring to a skilled nursing facility. These include a calendar where all the important dates that your loved one needs to remember can be written down, a pen and paper to take notes and pictures of your loved one’s friends and family.

A record book to write memories in is also a great idea. This can be used as a place to journal about the day-to-day happenings, as well as a way to keep track of special events.

Keeping Track of Your Loved One’s Belongings

It’s important to keep track of your loved one’s belongings when they move into a skilled nursing facility. This includes their clothes, personal items, and any valuables they may have.

You can do this by creating a list of all the items and assigning each item a number. Then, you can put this list in a binder or folder to keep it organized.

Make sure to include the following information for each item:

  • A description of the item
  • The date it was brought to the facility
  • The name of the person who brought it
  • The room number where it is located

These steps will help you keep track of everything and ensure that nothing gets lost. You must also label all of the items with your loved one’s name. This way, other people in the skilled nursing facility will know that the item belongs to your loved one.

Since a lot of people will be coming and going from your loved one’s room, it is important to keep track of all of the items they have brought with them. This will help you make sure that nothing gets lost or stolen.

You can also ask the skilled nursing facility if they take an inventory of the belongings of their patients. If not, you can make your own inventory. This way, you will have a record of everything that your loved one has in their room.

Final Thoughts

Moving to a skilled nursing facility can be a difficult transition for both you and your loved one. However, by being prepared and organized, it can be a bit smoother and easier for everyone involved. Make sure to pack everything your loved one will need and use this checklist as a guide.

It’s always best to be cautious when it comes to packing for your loved one’s move to a skilled nursing facility. If you’re not sure if something is allowed, ask the skilled nursing facility beforehand. This way, you can be prepared and have peace of mind knowing that your loved one has everything they need.

Skilled Nursing Facilities at Eden Senior Care

If you or a loved one are looking for a skilled nursing facility in Minnesota or Wisconsin, please reach out to one of skilled nursing specialists at Eden Senior Care to see what your options are.

Read more about skilled nursing.