Planning for emergencies

Who will be there if I can’t? Many carers worry about what will happen to the person they care for in an emergency situation. This section contains information on planning ahead for emergencies and minimising the risk of emergency situations.

Creating an emergency plan

For many carers, life cannot simply be put on hold when emergencies happen as the person they are looking after relies on them for vital support. It is recommended that all carers create a plan for these particular instances – for you and the person you look after. Having a plan in place can help ease your worries and provide reassurance.

For many the word emergency conjures up thoughts of disaster, injury or illness, but an emergency can be as simple as being stuck in traffic with no phone signal and unable to pick the person you care for up from an appointment. We all think we will always be there but sometimes things arise that mean we can’t. In these instances having an emergency plan in place can help to alleviate both carer stress and distress for the person you support.

An emergency plan should:

  • Be a live document that can be and is updated regularly
  • Provide information necessary for the initial 72 hours after an emergency takes place
  • Contain the name and address and contact details of the person you look after
  • Contain the details of should be contacted in the event of an emergency and what this person will be able to do – this might include friends, family or professionals. Note; it is important that if you name someone in your emergency plan that this is something you have discussed with them and they have consented to being named
  • Have the details of any medication the person you look after is taking and any routines they currently follow
  • Contain the details of any ongoing treatment they need and who provides this.

ENABLE Scotland have created a template that can help you to create your emergency plan and guide conversations around this which you can download here.

Once you have created your emergency plan it is important you keep this up to date and share with the relevant people, e.g. your named contacts, your GP, a neighbour, the day centre etc.
Although you may be able to arrange an emergency plan with friends and family it can be reassuring to have the involvement of your local council in case informal arrangements fall through or the duration of the emergency is likely to last longer than 72 hours. One way to do this is through requesting an Adult Carer Support Plan or Young Carers Statement. As part of these you can discuss putting an emergency plan in place.

VOCAL carer emergency cards

VOCAL has produced a Carer Emergency Card (available to download below) which allows carers and the person cared for to carry important information for use in emergency situations.

The pack contains two emergency cards – one for the carer’s use and one for the person they care for. The cards can be carried in a wallet or handbag and allow carers to include personal information, details of the person they care for and emergency contacts. This information is vital when unexpected events, such as accidents or sudden illness involving the carer, occur.

For Edinburgh carers, you can also request a similar card service through the City of Edinburgh Council by calling Social Care Direct (0131 200 2324) and requesting a carer’s emergency card application – more information can be found here.

Safety in the home

Make your home safer and have a fire action plan – Fire Scotland offer a free home safety check and fit free smoke detectors if required. To arrange a visit call 0800 0731 999 (freephone).

There are also devices and technology which may help – alarms, monitors and sensors for unlit gas, heat, smoke or floods, fall detectors and wander alarms.

See ‘Equipment & adaptations in the home’ for more details.

Who to contact in an emergency

Below is a list of emergency contacts for Edinburgh and the Lothians and useful resources to download.