Planning for an emergency

Planning for emergencies where you are unable to provide care

As a carer it is a good idea to put plans in place in case you are suddenly unable to provide care to the person you look after.

A crisis or emergency situation refers to something that couldn't be planned for and could include:

  • an unplanned admission to hospital
  • a family emergency such as a bereavement
  • your employment being at immediate risk due to your caring role.

Having plans in place will help other people look after the person you care for while you are unable to. It will also mean you don't have to worry so much and can concentrate on yourself for a little while.

Carers Emergency card

The Derbyshire Carers Emergency Card Scheme is a way of letting emergency services know you are a carer and that someone relies on you for support. It also allows you to have details of contingency plans held on the Derbyshire Adult Care database so they can be accessed by professionals who may be helping you in a crisis. It's important that the contingency plans you make include enough details and information. Our blog post about making an emergency plan has lots of hints and tips on what to include. 

Get help from friends and family

Make a point of speaking to trusted family members, friends and neighbours about what you'd like to happen in an emergency situation where you are unable to provide care. The more people who know what kind of help you'd need/want the better. You could even write a few things down, such as medication, emergency contacts and details of the type of care you provide, and give it to your family, friends and neighbours to keep safe in case they need it in the future. 

If other family members and friends regularly help you provide care, it may be worth setting up a group sharing app such as Jointly. Jointly has been designed by carers on behalf of Carers UK and is available on smartphones, tablets or computers. It costs £2.99 to set up and allows everyone who helps care for a person to share information, keep track of who is doing what and is a good place to store details of emergency plans and contacts. There are a range of other apps like Jointly available on the market. 

Register as a carer with your GP

Let your GP surgery know that you are a carer so they can support you and the person you care for in an emergency situation.

Planning for emergency/crisis situations faced by the person you care for

It's a good idea to create a list of important phone numbers and contacts that you can keep next to the phone for your own use in case of an emergency or crisis. This could be the number of the person you care for's social worker, community nurse or GP. You could also make lists of contacts on your mobile phone in case you need them while you are out and about.

If the person you care for has mental health issues, it is especially important to have plans in place as well as practical strategies to support them through bouts of depression or self-harm. This is something you can discuss with the person you care for and any professionals involved with their care in advance.

Information sharing, advanced statements and power of attorney

Care and health service providers have a duty to look after personal information, such as medical records, and protect a person’s right to privacy. However, as a carer it is often helpful to be told information about the person you care for, especially in an emergency situation. It can be frustrating if you can't get the information you need due to data protection laws. You will also want to make sure the person's wishes are followed if they are unable to advocate for themselves. There are things you can do in advance to make things easier:

  • If the person you care for has capacity you can make an information sharing agreement where they give permission for care and health providers to share information with you as their carer.
  • An advanced statement is about the person you care for's wishes regarding future medical and social care interventions.
  • Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can give you the right to make decisions on behalf of the person you care for if they lose mental capacity. It may be difficult to talk about with the person you care for, but if you have LPA it's easier for you to make sure their wishes are followed if they are unable to speak for themselves.

Taking time off from work in an emergency

It's a statutory right to be able to take time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependent. This includes someone who depends on you for care. The amount of time you are able to take is described as 'reasonable amount of time' - usually one or two days but it depends on your employer. Some employers pay employees for emergency leave while others don't.

It's a good idea to check what your employer's policy is in advance so you know what you are entitled to and don't have to worry about checking this out when you are trying to help the person you care for in a crisis. There is more information about employment rights for carers in the carers rights section of this website.

Other emergency schemes

Lions Message in a Bottle - keep personal and medical information in a recognisable bottle placed in the fridge. Emergency responders know to look for a bottle if they see the message in a bottle sticker in your/the person you care for's house. You can get bottle from GP surgeries, health centres or pharmacies.

In Case of an Emergency (ICE) Card - save medical information and emergency contact on a wallet card, bracelet and/or mobile phone so it can be accessed by first responders in an emergency.

The Herbert Protocol - The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme being introduced by Derbyshire Constabulary and other agencies which encourages carers to compile useful information which could be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing. Carers, family members and friends or professionals can complete the Herbert protocol form in advance so relevant information about the person is ready prepared and easily accessible in case of an emergency.

Green Bag Scheme - save all prescribed medications in one green bag so it is all together and ready to go in case of an emergency such as an unplanned hospital admission.

RightCare Plan - Derbyshire Health United's scheme enabling people with complex health needs and those nearing end of life to access seamless care out of hours.

Police Care Card - Derbyshire Police have set up a new system and telephone number for people who have difficulty using the phone, have limited verbal communication, low levels of confidence or difficulty holding the handset for a long time. 

Care of pets in an emergency

In an emergency situation, consider how any animals would be cared for:

  • Would a family member, friend or neighbour be able to provide care to any pets? If so, make a list of contact numbers and leave it somewhere visible so it could be found easily by other people. Ideally include these details in your carer emergency card plan 
  • Consider getting contacts and prices for local kennels, catteries or other appropriate places and keep them somewhere safe. However, most will only accept pets that have been vaccinated so it's a good idea to check the pet/s are up-to-date.
  • Have you got an appropriate pet carrier if the pet had to be transported somewhere? 
  • The Cinnamon Trust is a national charity with a network of volunteers who provide care for pets, helping to keep them together with their owner, e.g. walking dogs for housebound owners or fostering pets for owners in hospital or long term care. Tel: 01736 757 900.  
  • If you live in the north of the county the St Bernard Animal Sanctuary in Chesterfield may be able to help give emergency advice, tel: 01246 455777
  • The RSPCA may be able to offer advice and other contacts in your area. Tel: 01332 344620 (South) or 01246 273358 (Chesterfield and North East) or 07432 709199 (High Peak). Or you can call the national line on tel: 0300 1234999
  • All local councils have a dog warden who may be able to help, or point you to someone who would be able to help you in an emergency situation arose
  • For farm animals the Farming Community Network might be able to help you get emergency plans in place, tel: 03000 111 999.

First Aid

As a carer you may find it useful to learn the basics of First Aid in case of an emergency. The training for carers page has information about how to access courses.

Fire Safety

Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service may be able to offer free smoke alarms or check your existing alarms. They may also be able to offer advice on developing an escape plan to get you and the person you care for out of the house quickly in the event of a fire. You can request access to this service through the Derbyshire First Contact Scheme

Alternatively you can use the Fire Service's online fire safety assessment tool to do your own check on how safe your house is and make your own escape plan.

Priority services register

Western Power Distribution maintain a priority services register of people who are vulnerable or medically dependent so they can be offered priority support in the event of a powercut or gas outage. These services could include: priority re-connection, assistance with oxygen concentrators, crisis packs including hand warmers and torches, free hot drinks and catering, information and advice, as well as access to a direct dial telephone line to speak to Western Power staff. To find out more contact tel: 0800 6783 105 or register online

Other helpful websites

This information was last updated on 26/08/2017

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