Advice To Carers: Planning & Managing Emergencies
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
Carers need to have a plan in place to manage unexpected emergencies. Now the emergency may involve the person you care for or yourself. The point is that having a plan will significantly reduce your stress when everything suddenly goes horribly wrong.
At work we have business continuity plans for disaster recovery and risk management plans for known and potential risks. It makes sense for us to apply these same principles to our roles as carers - namely to have an emergency care plan in place to ensure the care of your loved one continues, as seamlessly as possible.
The Emergency Care Plan
An emergency care plan is a hard copy document containing the essential care details to continue care should you, as the carer, suddenly not be available, or the person you care for has a sudden medical event or deterioration in health.
In the plan, you need to include all the care details that will allow another carer to pick up where you left off or give an emergency health worker a concise appraisal of the health of the person you care for.
What To Include In Your Emergency Care Plan
- Your name and contact details.
- The name and any contact details for the person you care for.
- Guidance on how to gain access to the person you care for, such as the location of the spare house key.
- A listing and the contact details of the people you can call on for care support, be it a care service provider, family members, neighbours or friends.
- Step-by-step instructions on the daily and weekly care routine, including details on diet, any regular appointments, and their likes and dislikes such as food and drinks, having a chat or preference for peace and quiet.
- Medical information including medications, existing health conditions, and any allergies.
- A listing and contact details of the GP and pharmacist of the person you care for.
- The location of any hospital overnight bag you have already packed for your loved one.
- The name and contact details of the Power of Attorney / Enduring Guardian(s) and next of kin.
It is also a good idea to place a note in your wallet stating that you are a carer, who you care for, and the contact details of your carer substitute in the case of an emergency.
A template Emergency Care Plan is available on the Australian Government's Carer Gateway website. Simply download the Word document and fill in the details.
Making Your Emergency Care Plan Available
The next step is to ensure you and your support group of carers have access to that document when the need arises:
- Ensure you can access it via your phone.
- Keep a hard copy with the Power of Attorney and other legal documents of the person you care for.
- Provide a copy to the emergency care support contacts listed in your plan and to the GP.
The emergency care plan is a living document. It will need to be reviewed and updated on a regular basis.
My Single Important Piece Of Advice To Carers
With 35 years' experience in the care sector, there is one single important piece of advice I wish to share with all carers:
You need to have support in place to help you.
If you wear yourself down and lose your health, we end up with two people needing care.
Support may come from other members of the family, caring neighbours, and long held family friends. Ask whether they would be prepared to help out in an emergency and whether they are open to giving you a break from time to time. Run through the emergency care plan with them to gauge whether they are up to helping out if an emergency arises.
Emergency Care Options
In an emergency situation, in-home emergency respite care provided by a Federal Government-appointed supplier is available at short notice. This care may be fully subsidised under the Federal Government's Carer Directed Package. For more information on emergency respite, call the Carer Gateway on 1800 422 737. This phone line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The most reliable fall back position for minor emergencies, brought on by demanding work projects or sudden diary clashes, is to have a care service provider ready to assist. Do some research and come up with your shortlist of preferred providers for in-home care.
In-home care is expensive, ranging anywhere from $50/hour upwards (for Agency Employed and fully insured carers). The Federal Government does subsidise in-home care but it takes time to complete the paperwork and for the subsidised care packages to arrive. It is wise to keep aside an emergency fund to pay for in-home services privately while you wait for approval for the government subsidy.
You Don't Have To Do This On Your Own
If you need guidance at any point on bringing together a care support team or drawing up an emergency care plan, please feel free to call or email me, Danielle Robertson, for a no obligation, complimentary discussion.