How to care in an emergency

Day-to-day tasks make it difficult for us to find the time to draw up a plan, but if an emergency does occur you may well be grateful to have a plan in place to take some of the stress out of the situation. Having a plan in place can help ease your worries if you cannot care for those you look after at any point in the future.

Where to start with an emergency plan? Carers Trust suggests bringing together these details: 

  • details of the name, address and 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 and where it is stored
  • details of any ongoing treatment they need 
  • noting details of any allergies 
  • details of their GP and pharmacy 
  • any ongoing treatment they need 
  • any care and support services they receive 
  • any continence products needed and who supplies them 
  • any mobility challenges and mobility aids such as a wheelchair or hoist 
  • anything behavioural others need to be aware of.

It is a good idea to discuss the details of the plan with the person/people you are looking after so they know that the plan exists and what it contains. It will also, hopefully, give them a sense of ownership of the plan rather than being something that is imposed on them. Additionally, they may well think of things that need to go into the plan that you might not have thought of.

It is important to share the completed plan with family members, friends or neighbours who would be willing to cover in an emergency. You may also consider giving a copy to health and social welfare professionals who help look after those you care for.

Remember that the plan should be a living document that you will need to review and update regularly. For instance, you may want to have a section on upcoming appointments, which will be constantly changing.

If you have access to the internet, you may well find these resources helpful in creating your plan:

It is a good idea in preparing for an emergency to make up a hospital bag for the person you look after. As well as your emergency plan, put in everything needed for an overnight stay, like nightwear, toothbrush, medication etc. You may also feel that preparing one for yourself would be a good idea.

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. If you cannot organise alternative care, contact your local authority or health care provider.

Another way of gaining support in the long term is through arranging an assessment for the person you look after or a Carers Assessment for yourself. Every carer who has an assessment should be asked about emergencies and offered help to plan for them. Visit our website or call CarersLine for more information on Carers Assessments.

We promote the use of Carers Emergency Cards in Bristol and South Gloucestershire and receive and process applications on behalf of South Gloucestershire Council.

Carers carry the card and then if there is an accident or emergency it can be used to alert a 24-hour emergency call centre that the person cared for will need help. Steps are then taken to ensure the safety of the person you care for.

If you are caring for someone with dementia, then it is worth considering signing up with Avon and Somerset Police’s Dementia Safeguarding Scheme.

The Scheme enables you to upload vital information about those you care for which can be used if they go missing. With reports that over 40,000 people with dementia go missing each year in the UK, joining the scheme could make a real difference in ensuring the early return of your loved one.

As part of the Scheme, you can request a wearable wristband, hangtag or lanyard with a glow-in-the-dark card for the individual which stores electronic information about the wearer, such as their name and next of kin. The device will be scanned by emergency services if the individual is found wandering. Please note, that devices are only available for those with dementia and not any other type of medical condition. Register at

You can also use this web address if you are already in the Scheme and need to report a change of circumstance.

Lions Clubs’ Message in a Bottle is a simple but effective way for people to keep their basic personal and medical details where they can be found in an emergency on a standard form and in a common location – the fridge.

Message in a Bottle helps emergency services personnel save valuable time in identifying an individual very quickly and knowing if they have any allergies or take special medication.

The Message in a Bottle kit includes a form, where personal and medical information is detailed. This is placed in the bottle (with its distinctive green branding), which is stored in the fridge. Two stickers are provided: one for the fridge door and the other for the inside of the front door of the premises.

You can obtain a Message in a Bottle kit by contacting your local Lions club. You can find details of your local Lions Club:

Tel: 0121 441 4544