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 with care at home. Discuss with the person’s healthcare provider or home care coordinator what is provided and what will need to be purchased. Private healthcare insurance may cover some of these costs.

Examples of these supplies could include soaker pads to prevent bedding changes or dark 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 alone for a period of time, consider setting up an assistive alert service for support or emergencies. These services usually include a device the person carries with them. If the person needs help, they press a button and help is called based on their pre-arranged instructions. This service typically has a fee.

*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 with your caregiving tasks and provide practical assistance to the person who is ill. Be sure to ask the person’s healthcare provider what may be helpful in the home and how to acquire or rent it.

Three pieces of equipment you may find especially helpful include:

  • A hospital bed. This can make it much easier 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.

  • A side table close to the bed. This is handy to store supplies that can be easily reached while caregiving.

Side Table