Chapter 5: Getting prepared: Safety and risks

Supplies and equipment

I did not know what was available or even how to use some of the different items that were suggested. Thankfully, the visiting nurse or the home care worker showed me a few things.

Healthcare supplies

Various supplies may be needed to help you provide care at home. Discuss with your healthcare provider or home care coordinator what is provided and what you will need to purchase.  Private healthcare insurance may cover some of these costs.

Examples of these supplies could include soaker pads to prevent bedding changes or black towels if there is any chance of external bleeding.



Soft fluffy towels, flannel sheets, and sheepskins placed under bed linens can increase the comfort of the person who is ill.

Personal alert services

If you need to go out and the person who is ill can safely be left for a period of time, you could consider setting up an assistive alert service for support or emergencies. Usually, these services include a device the person carries with them. If they require certain services, they press the button and help is called based on their pre-arranged instructions.

*If you are caregiving for someone who has ALS, please get in touch with your local ALS society. They may have equipment and supplies to lend or rent at little or no cost.


Different types of equipment can help you with your caregiving tasks and provide practical assistance to the person who is ill. Be sure to ask your healthcare team what may be helpful in your home and how you can acquire or rent it.

Three pieces of equipment you may find especially helpful include:

  • A hospital bed. This will make it much easier for you to move the person who is ill. The elevation level can also be adjusted to the person’s comfort.
Hospital bed
  • An over-the-bed table. This table is especially helpful if the person who is ill cannot get out of bed. The table can be moved over the bed and in front of the person for them to eat their meals, and to keep things within reach for them as needed.
  • A side table close to the bed. This is handy to store supplies that you can easily reach while caregiving.
Side Table