One of the most fundamental things you need to do in case of an emergency is to plan who will look after the person you care for if you are suddenly unable to.
Often when there is an emergency, everything else in our lives has to be put to one side while the emergency is sorted out or while recovering from an illness or injury. But when you care for someone, you often can’t just leave them to look after themselves while this happens. You will need to find someone else to care for them in your place.
Think about other family members, friends and neighbours that would be well-placed to step in if there is a crisis. It is probably wise to have a few different people lined up, in case any of them is unable to help for some reason.
It is a good idea to think really hard about who you are picking, and make sure you feel confident that they are a safe pair of hands for the person you care for. It is a big responsibility to care for somebody, so be sure it is someone who you trust to handle it.
It is also important to try and involve the person you care for in this planning too, where possible. Care can feel very personal and invasive, so it is important that it is someone they are happy to have assisting them in this way. They might also find a sudden change in carer upsetting and confusing and it can help if they know in advance who will be looking after them and even better if they feel like they have had a role in selecting them.
And don’t forget to check that the person you have picked is happy to do it too. Bear in mind that not everyone will feel comfortable with such a big commitment, so be prepared for them to say no.
Whoever you select, it is important that they are prepared in advance for what they will need to do. Perhaps they could visit so you can talk them through everything and show them the ropes. They could even look after the person you care for a few hours as a trial run.
You could also try to arrange for some additional support services to help lighten the load for the replacement carer. For instance, if you normally help the person you care for to do their food shopping, you could instead arrange for them to have it delivered from a local supermarket while you are unable to be there. Similarly, you could also arrange for their GP and local pharmacy to fill and deliver their prescriptions. And perhaps a local cattery or kennel could temporarily take in any pets they might have.
If the care is going to be divided between a few different people, it might be worth using an app to coordinate this. One option is Jointly, an app which has been developed by Carers UK for situations just like this. For a one-off payment of £2.99, it allows you to all communicate with one another, record any medication that is given and store emergency contact numbers.
It is also important to think about some of the practicalities, like how the replacement carers will get access. You could consider giving them all a spare key, or it may be easier to install a key safe. This is small box you attach near the front door containing a key that can be accessed by entering a code.
If there are no family members, friends or neighbours who would be suitable, or if you want to make more formal arrangements in case they end up being unable to help, then you should talk to your local authority. Ask them whether they are able to provide emergency care through a rapid response service. Depending on the person you care for’s financial situation, this could have a cost attached to it so you may want to set aside some funds just in case.