How to prepare your home to host people traveling for medical care — and their loved ones

Categories: Open Homes

When people travel for medical care, their families, caregivers, and loved ones often travel with them to provide critical emotional and physical support. But sometimes, the cost of airfare and accommodations are challenging barriers to overcome alone. With Airbnb’s Open Homes program, you can help relieve that burden by hosting a medical patient or those traveling with them.

If you’re getting ready to open your home for the first time to a person traveling for treatment or rest, you’ll likely have questions about how to prepare your home. We spoke to nonprofit staff managers and families who’ve traveled for medical care to get a clear sense of what to expect. Read on to find out how you can offer someone the comfort and space they need to recover.

How do I communicate with guests before they arrive?
After a nonprofit organization like Fisher House or The Bone Marrow & Cancer Foundation reaches out with a request to book your home, they may ask follow-up questions about the space.  Before confirming the reservation, you can message with the nonprofit — or sometimes, the guest directly — to gauge whether your spare room or home fits their particular needs.

You can share logistical details like bed set-up and whether the guest will have access to a shower and tub. Other details to consider sharing at this stage: whether your building has an elevator or is otherwise wheelchair-accessible, and if there is private space available to store medications or other personal items.

What kinds of questions should I ask the person coming to stay?
To know what to expect, you can ask how many people they are traveling with and how much privacy their family would like during their stay. Feel free to share any additional information (e.g. your family is bilingual, clear directions to your front door, well-labeled wifi password) to ensure the stay runs smoothly.

How can I make the guest feel welcome?
The most common thing we hear is that soft sheets, clean towels, and access to fans or a heater make guests feel at home.

Some people have sensitivities to dust and pet hair, and may need to stay in a place that has been professionally cleaned. Depending on their health and the season that they are traveling, they might be looking for temperature-regulated air conditioning and screens on the windows. If you have any questions about a specific guest’s cleaning requirements, you can always send a message to the person who requested the stay.

How can I go above and beyond to make sure they feel at home while they heal?
Because these guests tend to spend the majority of their time traveling to and from treatment facilities—they appreciate items that limit the amount of errands to run during their stay. Guests might appreciate additional items like travel-size water bottles, grab-and-go snacks, blank cards for writing “thank you” and “get better soon” notes, and simple toiletries. Additional things to consider: offering basic groceries, instant food items (oatmeal, coffee, etc) and reading materials.

Many of the families traveling together are spending long hours at a hospital, and look forward to coming home at the end of the day to rest and relax together.

Read stories about people who are recovering from medical care and how their family, caregivers, and loved ones support them.

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