When emergencies happen, our lives are put on hold whilst we deal with the aftermath. For many carers life cannot simply be put on hold, when the person they are looking after relies on them for vital help and support. When a carer is rushed into hospital, who else will step in?
If carers face an emergency they need to know that replacement care will get sorted out speedily and efficiently. For many, this may simply involve contacting a family member, friend or neighbour who is willing to cover in an emergency.
We advise all carers to create an emergency plan - for you and the person you look after. Having a plan in place can help ease your worries if you are not able to care for the person you look after at any point in the future.
In order to create an emergency plan that fits your needs, you will need to consider:
- Details of the name and address and any other contact details of the person you look after.
- Who you and the person you look after would like to be contacted in an emergency – this might include friends, family or professionals.
- Details of any medication the person you look after is taking.
- Details of any ongoing treatment they need.
You may be able to arrange this with friends and family but it can be reassuring to have the involvement of your local council/trust in case informal arrangements fall through. One way to do this is through a community care assessment for the person you look after or a carer's assessment for yourself. A social worker should be able to help you with planning.
Every carer who has an assessment should be asked about emergencies and offered help to plan for them. In addition, people who provide care for people with mental health problems under the care programme approach should have a written care plan which includes contingency planning.
Emergency "carer card" schemes
In some areas there are emergency card schemes that have been set up for carers, often by the local council/trust or a local carers centre. This might be called
- Carer card scheme
- Carers emergency card
- Emergency care scheme.
In these instances, carers are usually asked to register and, with help from a skilled worker, draw up their emergency plans. The plans are held by the scheme which provides a 24-hour response service. Carers carry a card with the scheme's telephone number and a unique identification number to avoid any personal details appearing on the card.
In some areas they are integrated with police, fire and ambulance services. In the event of an emergency you or someone with you would call the scheme. An operator would look up your emergency plan and make arrangements for replacement care. This could be contacting friends or family, or putting in professional help. Plans will have been shared with them so they know the individual requirements of the person requiring care, such as medication.
There aren't schemes in every area so you may not be able to access one.