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Thoughtful Gifts Ideas for Nursing Home Staff

Claudia is a writer who appreciates the extremely important work of nursing home and assisted living staff.

It's not always easy figuring out what to give the staff at a loved one's assisted living facility. Here are some tips and ideas to help out.

It's not always easy figuring out what to give the staff at a loved one's assisted living facility. Here are some tips and ideas to help out.

Gift Ideas for Nursing Home Staff

Every once in a while, people who come into our lives are truly special. In my experience, the nursing home staff certainly falls into this category. Their jobs are difficult, both physically and emotionally, and they work 24 hours a day to ensure that their loved ones are well taken care of.

Assisted-living facility staff care for our loved ones as their lives come to an end. They feed them, bathe them, and sometimes just hold their hands to provide a bit of companionship.

When a loved one is in a nursing or hospice facility for a long period of time, family members often get to know the staff fairly well. Oftentimes, loved ones and their families form a special bond with a particular staff member, reminiscing with them and sharing laughs to ease the tension.

Because of these special bonds, some families like to show their appreciation by giving gifts, but deciding what sort of gifts to give to nursing staff can be tricky. There are a number of things to consider before making any decisions.

What to Consider Before Buying a Gift for Hospice or Eldercare Staff

  • Are employees permitted to receive gifts from clients' family members at this nursing facility?
  • Do you want to recognize the entire staff?
  • Do you want to recognize a particular staff member?
  • Has your loved one formed a special bond with a particular staff member?

I cannot overemphasize the importance of the first factor. Many nursing facilities do not permit their employees to receive gifts of any kind from residents or their families. Some facilities only permit certain types of gifts. Before giving a gift to nursing staff, check with management to see what their policies are. In some cases, accepting gifts can be cause for the immediate dismissal of an employee.

Once you've determined whether staff are allowed to accept gifts at your loved one's care facility (and whether management has any restrictions or guidelines you must follow), you can start planning your gift based on the other three considerations above. Below, you'll find ideas that take all of these factors into consideration, along with some tips for assembling a gift basket and an original cookie recipe that can feed a whole staff.

Gift Ideas if Gifts Are Restricted or Not Permitted

If the facility where your loved one resides does not permit its employees to receive certain types of gifts, there may still be ways to show your appreciation. In most cases, these ideas are acceptable; just be sure to double-check with management, so you don't get anyone in trouble.

For an Entire Staff

  • Fruit basket/platter
  • Deli sandwich platter
  • Tray of baked goodies
  • Potted plant for the staff room
  • Commendation letter to the nursing facility staff and management

For an Individual Staff Member

  • Homemade goodies
  • Heartfelt letter of thanks
  • Commendation letter to the employee's supervisor
  • Drawing from a child
  • Donation in the employee's name to a charity
Fruit platters make wonderful gifts that an entire staff can enjoy.

Fruit platters make wonderful gifts that an entire staff can enjoy.

Gift Ideas if the Care Facility Does Permit Gifts

If staff is permitted to receive gifts, here are some ideas. If the gift is for an individual staff member, try to make it personal since you may have learned a bit about them over time.

For an Entire Staff

  • Baked goodies tray
  • Deli sandwich tray
  • Fruit platter
  • Personalized items (like mugs or shirts): There are many online shops and catalogs that sell personalized items in bulk. Be warned that this option can be somewhat costly.

For an Individual Staff Member

  • Coffee/tea basket
  • Bath basket
  • Sports memorabilia
  • Bouquet of flowers
  • Inspirational book
  • Scarf/hat/glove set
  • A memento from your loved one's room: This is appropriate if your loved one has passed and they were particularly close to one staff member. It may be something your loved one wanted this employee to have.
  • Gift card: This is an easy option, but gift cards can be impersonal, so unless you know that the staff member really loves going to a certain restaurant or purchasing things from a certain store, it's better to get something else.
Flowers are a great way to brighten anyone's day.

Flowers are a great way to brighten anyone's day.

Tips for Putting Together an Inexpensive Gift Basket

Save some money by making your own gift basket. It's easy! Here are some tips to help you make it special without draining your wallet.

  • Most of us have a nice basket around the house, but if not, pick one up at a local thrift or dollar store.
  • Determine what sort of basket you'll be putting together and purchase enough items to fill it up.
  • A tea basket, for example, could contain two or three varieties of tea, two mugs, a tea towel, a box of sugar cubes, a packet of cookies, and some candies. The mugs and tea towels can be purchased at the dollar store, and the other items can be found at the grocery store.
  • Arrange the items in the basket, using some crumpled tissue paper or raffia to add height, texture, and interest.
  • Wrap the basket with clear wrapping paper and a bow (or just put a bow on the handle of the basket).
Cookies are always a hit, and it's easy to make a big batch for the entire staff.

Cookies are always a hit, and it's easy to make a big batch for the entire staff.

Recipe: Swedish Jam Drop Cookies for a Crowd

Here is a quick, delicious, and crowd-pleasing cookie recipe I use whenever I need to give a gift to a team or group. I hope your loved one's care facility staff like them as much as I do. (This recipe makes about three dozen cookies and is easily doubled.)


  • 1 cup of softened butter
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup seedless raspberry jam


  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then add flour.
  3. Roll dough into one-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet two inches apart.
  4. Make an indent in each ball with your thumb.
  5. Place a teaspoon of jam in each indentation.
  6. Bake for approximately 12 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

Things to Remember

The depth of gratitude we feel for the nursing staff who have helped our loved ones is hard to overstate, and it is only natural to want to show our appreciation by giving them a gift. It is important to remember to choose your gift with care and not to go overboard. Even more important, always check the nursing facility rules before giving any gift. You never want your gesture of appreciation to get an employee in trouble.

© 2012 Claudia Porter


Alma Evans on September 11, 2020:

Very nice article. Loved it!

Claudia Porter (author) on April 21, 2013:

Thanks so much rajan. My parents live in a retirement community and I have been thinking of different gifts to give their helpers lately. Glad you enjoyed the hub.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 21, 2013:

Thanks for sharing some excellent ideas for such gifting.

Voted up and useful.

Claudia Porter (author) on October 30, 2012:

Thanks RTalloni! It's getting near the holidays so people are probably starting to think about these things more.

RTalloni on October 29, 2012:

A neat look at gifts for nursing home employees, and a timely reminder!

Claudia Porter (author) on October 07, 2012:

Thanks Sharyn's Slant! My parents live in a retirement community and the people that work there are great. I like to reward them.

Sharon Smith from Northeast Ohio USA on October 07, 2012:

I love this hub. You think like I do. Great ideas for showing how special caregivers are to us. I've worked in home health care on and off since my teen years. It's rewarding work but difficult too. It is nice to be recognized.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 12, 2012:

I appreciate your comments vespawoolf. You were lucky to have such a wonderful caretaker for your mother in law.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on September 12, 2012:

A nurse regularly visited my in-laws home when my mother-in-law was terminally ill with cancer. She became like a part of the family and we will never forget her loving care. These are helpful ideas to show appreciation. Of course, nothing could ever compensate the work that healthcare workers do! Thank you so much for these great ideas.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 11, 2012:

Thanks eHealer! It was actually one of the eight assigned to me but I really ended up having fun with it. My parents live in a retirement community so I know how important nursing staff is.

Deborah from Las Vegas on September 10, 2012:

Glimmer, what a great idea for a hub, nursing staff (yeah, that's me) are always starving! Food is a wonderful idea and really makes us feel all fuzzy, warm and loved. Great hub, voted up! Thanks!

Claudia Porter (author) on September 10, 2012:

Wow Maria - What a lovely comment. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. These employees really are special. Thanks so much!

Maria Jordan from Jeffersonville PA on September 10, 2012:

Dear Glimmer,

In my current role, I teach nurses who work in all areas. Nursing

Homes are a place where there is much heart and dedication exhibited

for little in the way of relief: physical, emotional, even financial.

Your intention and thorough breakdown of how a family member could

show recognition is beautiful and heartwarming. For so many nurses, a

thank you of any kind is treasured. It is so not about the monetary value,

rather they were respected and appreciated for doing a job from the

heart. "How would you care for your own family" is an expression I hear many nurses have this philosophy

Excellent job and THANK YOU! Voted UP and UABI. Hugs, Maria

Claudia Porter (author) on September 10, 2012:

That's a good point Millionaire! We don't know who does what behind the scenes and often our loved ones can't tell us. Thanks for commenting!

Claudia Porter (author) on September 10, 2012:

Thanks Bill! They really are overlooked and their jobs are really difficult. They do some of the most personal tasks for people who can no longer do it for themselves. I always appreciate your comments.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 10, 2012:

I appreciate it Nell! I think that people appreciate all gestures of thanks and I find it so easy to overlook some of the people who do the most for us. Thanks for commenting and I'd love to know what a fairy cake is!

Claudia Porter (author) on September 10, 2012:

Thank you teaches. Fresh fruit is one of those things that almost everyone loves and that most people can eat too! I appreciate the comment.

Shasta Matova from USA on September 09, 2012:

These are great gifts ideas for these hardworking folks who take care of our loved ones. I hadn't thought about how some of them would not be allowed to accept gifts, but it does make sense. I love the idea of bringing something especially food for the entire team, since you may not know what contribution each person makes individually when you are not around.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 09, 2012:

Good for you for writing this; I have had a lot of interaction with people in nursing homes. They are overworked, underpaid and many times doing a thankless job. Giving them recognition in the form of a gift is a wonderful idea.

Nell Rose from England on September 09, 2012:

I like the idea of the coffee or food, all staff are so busy they forget to eat sometimes, I know, I remember when my mum was in for a while, my mum and dad used to stay in a nursing home sometimes for us to have a couple of days rest, or after they had been in hospital, and we were allowed to take stuff in, I remember taking sandwiches for them, and little homemade fairy cakes, they loved it! great hub and so important, nell

Dianna Mendez on September 09, 2012:

I love your suggestions here, Glimmer. I love the fresh fruit idea, it is certainly something that would be healthy and enjoyable.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 09, 2012:

Thanks Rosie!

Audrey Surma from Virginia on September 08, 2012:

Important hub reminding us of the things we can often forget to do.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 08, 2012:

Thanks Mama Kim! You are right. Most of them are very deserving. I appreciate the votes!

Aloe Kim on September 08, 2012:

Caregiver are more than deserving! Wonderful ideas and advice ^_^ thank you! voted a bunch

Claudia Porter (author) on September 08, 2012:

Thank you girishpuri. I appreciate the visit!

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on September 08, 2012:

very useful advice, showing respect to the deserving, great share, voted useful.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 08, 2012:

Thanks GoodLady! Try the cookies. You'll love them. I appreciate the visit.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 08, 2012:

Thanks for reading and the comments Craig! I appreciate it.

Craig Hartranft from Southeastern Pennsylvania on September 08, 2012:

Nice hub. Showing respect, encouragement and thanks to caregivers never goes out of style.

Penelope Hart from Rome, Italy on September 08, 2012:

Such valuable advice and so many beautifully presented ideas and personable choices. I like the little raspberry cookie cakes too - now who wouldn't? So cute.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 08, 2012:

Lord - Many thanks for the comments. I appreciate them.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 08, 2012:

Happyboomer - Thanks so smuch for commenting. I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I do think it's important recognize people who do so much for us.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 08, 2012:

Thanks so much for the vote and share ttoombs! I appreciate it.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 08, 2012:

Thanks Jackie - You're right and I always love poinsettias at the holidays. They are so bright. Thanks for commenting.

Joseph De Cross from New York on September 08, 2012:

Completely useful Glimmer. Nothing like rewarding these unknown heroes and their efforts. Nice lay out! Enjoyed that fruit decoration and your ideas about sandwiches and some flowers. Take care!

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on September 07, 2012:

Lots of great gift ideas and I love the formatting and photos you put in this hub.

Recognition of nursing home staff who are taking good care of a loved one can go a long way toward improving morale, even if it's in the form of heartfelt letters of thanks or commendation letters.

Am voting this hub up across the board except for funny.

Terrye Toombs from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map. on September 07, 2012:

Wow, Glim, you really covered this completely! Great job! Voted up and shared.

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on September 07, 2012:

Potted plants are a great idea because the residents can enjoy those too. Especially holiday ones the staff may leave out for all to see.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 07, 2012:

stillwaters - I'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I knew to add the policy check because my parents are in a retirement community and for them it's a no-no. Thanks for the comments.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 07, 2012:

Thanks lrc7815! You're right. It is easy to overlook people who do so much. I appreciate the comments.

Claudia Porter (author) on September 07, 2012:

Paradise - Thanks so much for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it!

Claudia Porter (author) on September 07, 2012:

Thanks as always Janine! I really appreciate your support. I've met such nice people here on hubpages. The cookies are super good and easy. And pretty at Christmas too!

stillwaters707 from Texas on September 07, 2012:

Families really appreciate those who give their best to care for our loved ones. Thank you for including ways to check policies as well as your ideas for gifts.

Linda Crist from Central Virginia on September 07, 2012:

What a lovely thought and hub. It is so easy to forget those who do so much. These dedicated care givers deserve to be recognized and you have provided wonderful suggestions.

Paradise7 from Upstate New York on September 07, 2012:

Excellent! I think nurses in general deserve all the gifts, baskets, goodies & etc. we can give them!

Janine Huldie from New York, New York on September 07, 2012:

Glimmer Twin Fan, beautiful article on what to get for those who take care of loved ones in a nursing home setting. I even loved the recipe you offered up here for Swedish Jam Drops. I am pinning this for the recipe and for the gift ideas more so for my daughter's dance teacher and assistants for Christmas time (sorry I don't have anyone currently in a nursing home). Have voted up and shared too!!