Although laundry may not be at the top of your list of questions when securing a place for a loved one in aged care, it’s worth asking about. It’s good to know if, for instance, any laundry is done on weekends, or if everything goes off-site, or if only certain items (sheets, etc) go off-site. (If you’re very lucky, nothing will go off-site.)
It pays to be practical and only buy things that will endure a very (very) hot wash. Laundries are busy places, and won’t have time to handwash a delicate throw purchased from the Appalachian Luxury Bedding Company, so it’s important to check the care instructions before you buy.
Unfortunately, clothes (as well as other items) can go missing in aged care, and this is both frustrating and potentially costly. They may turn up in another resident’s room, but sometimes they never reappear. A few simple steps can help avoid this happening too often:
- If possible, visit the facility’s on-site laundry and meet the people who work there. Ask them what you can do to ensure that mum’s clothes are returned to her. (They’ll tell you: LABEL EVERYTHING …)
- … so, label everything. And we mean everything. Clothes, shoes, slippers, spectacles, dentures. Label them CLEARLY, in block lettering. If you have sew-on, or iron-on, labels, make sure they’re obvious. (The facility may offer to do this for you.)
- Sometimes clothes accidentally get bundled up with the sheets and sent to an off-site laundry. For this reason, it’s worth labelling things not only with the individual’s name, but also with the name of the care facility. So, if Maureen Halvorsen lives at The Autumn Leaves Residential Aged Care Facility (which is a bit of a mouthful), consider labelling her clothes with: “HALVORSEN (AUTUMN LEAVES CARE)”. That way, if Maureen’s clothes ends up off-site, there’s a chance that they’ll come back, because the all-important facility name is on the label.
- The combination of very hot washes and quite harsh chemicals may cause your labels to fade, so re-labelling may be necessary from time-to-time.
- A few of our clients have had varying degrees of success with separate laundry baskets for items that are to be taken home and washed by the family. If you decide to go down this path, we recommend that you put up a notice stating: “All clothing is to be washed by family – please place all dirty clothing in the basket provided”). Put the notice on the wardrobe doors, as a reminder for facility staff.
- For those of you who are doggedly determined to track down clothing that has accidentally been sent off-site and hasn't returned, take heart: we have clients who travel to off-site laundries and fossick through the massive crates that contain all the un-homed clothing. (But be sure to contact the laundry before you hop in the car, and please be nice to them – they deal with vast amounts of dirty laundry on a daily basis.)
We hope this helps, but if you have other helpful tips, please share them with us.