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Planning for emergencies

As a carer you need to know that if an emergency happens, replacement care will get sorted out speedily and efficiently.

When you care for someone, life cannot simply be put on hold when the person you are looking after relies on you for vital help and support. 

If you're facing an emergency, you need to know that replacement care will get sorted out quickly and efficiently. For many, this will involve contacting a family member, friend or neighbour who is willing to cover in an emergency. If you have no one to turn to, please visit to register for the support that you need.

This section suggests things you can do to create an emergency plan.

Creating an emergency plan

We advise all carers to create an emergency plan – for you and all those you look after. Having a plan in place can help ease your worries if you are not able to care for those 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.

Some other useful tips

Think about whether there are alternative ways of getting shopping to the person/people you care for.

Prepare a single hospital bag for the person you look after. This should include their emergency contact, a list of the types of medication they take (including dose and frequency), any details of planned care appointments and things you would need for an overnight stay (snacks, pyjamas, toothbrush, medication etc). If they have an advanced care plan, please include that. You could also prepare one for yourself if you feel that you are at higher risk from coronavirus. See the list of those who are at higher risk.

You could sign up to a repeat prescription delivery service if the person you care for is reliant on regular prescription medication. For further guidance see

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Involving others in the plan

You may be able to arrange help and support from family and friends 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 arranging an assessment for the person you look after or a carer's assessment for yourself. See our webpage on assessments for the person you look after and carer's assessments for further information. Every carer who has an assessment should be asked about emergencies and offered help to plan for them. 

How technology can help 

If someone you're caring for lives at a distance, it's important to consider how technology can help you keep in touch and alert you to any problems to give you both peace of mind.

You may find it valuable to explore Facetime or Skype as a way to talk face to face, though at a distance. There are apps and devices that are specifically designed with carers' needs in mind such as Jointly, a mobile and online app that enables you to make communicating and coordinating care among friends and family for the person you're looking after, easier.

There is also technology that can help with particular tasks, in case you can't be around, such as managing taking medication. Read more about different types of remote technology that are available to help.

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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 involve contacting friends or family, or putting in place professional help. Plans will have been shared with them so they know the individual requirements of the person requiring care, such as medication.

Check with your local carers' organisation to see if such a scheme operates in your area.

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