There are so many ways in which planning ahead can make your life a little easier, so here are a few suggestions which Carers have told us have helped them. If you have any other great ideas, please email Signposts for Carers, or tell us via our Facebook page.
ICE – In case of Emergency. This is a national scheme for anybody with a mobile phone. Just make sure that the people whom you would want contacted in an emergency are saved in contacts with ICE ahead of their name (or ICE 1, ICE 2 etc.).
Smartphones. Most smartphones have ICE or health apps that can give more detailed medical information in case of emergency.
Message in a Bottle Pots or Message in a Wallet. Useful for anyone with any medical condition or on medication. Contains basic information to help the emergency services if you have an accident or emergency.
Carers Register. Join the Carers Register to set up your back up plan in case you have an emergency.
Pack a grab bag. If you or the person you care for are likely to have an emergency / quick medical admission, have your hospital grab bag ready. Even if you are not, then just have the list to hand, as otherwise you will forget something important like your phone charger or a book to read. Click on the heading below to see some suggestions.
- A holdall / large bag with your name on it, kept somewhere obvious, labelled ‘grab bag’, and with a list of anything you may need to add at last minute (*).
- * Up-to-date list of medication/ repeat prescription with allergies.
- List of main health conditions / episodes, especially if you are away from home.
- Relevant paperwork eg enduring or lasting power of attorney, living will (advance directive), original DNACPR (Do Not Attempt Resuscitation) order.
- * Glasses / reading glasses, Hearing aid (and batteries).
- Pen and paper – so you can write down what they have said / who staff are.
- Comfortable loose nightclothes (front fastening to enable medical examination, named if possible).
- Spare underwear.
- Change of clothes (comfy) if you are able to get up – makes you feel better!
- Cardigan / shoulder wrap if you feel the cold.
- * Basic toiletries, shaving, deodorant, scent, hair care, tooth/denture care.
- Lypsol as your lips may get dry in hospital atmosphere.
- Wet wipes / hand gel to clean your hands if you are immobile.
- * Mobile phone and charger, so people can contact you or you can contact them to arrange supplies / feeding the cat etc.
- * Music / earphones / audiobook plus charger to help distract from all the noises.
- Something to read or do: crossword, ipad/kindle charger (most hospitals have wifi). If you know you are likely to go in at some time, maybe pre-download some films or your favourite episodes.
- Earplugs / eye-mask to help night-time sleep. It is noisy in hospitals.
- For people with learning disability / anxiety / dementia etc. ‘This is me’ or ‘Me and My life’ plus some photographs / personal items, comfort objects (i.e. like a blanket if used, a specific item of clothing).
- Drinks or sweets eg mints or gum to keep mouth moist and fresh.
- Small amount of cash for newspaper, snacks, TV token, payphone.
- Plastic bags for dirty laundry.
Any other suggestions to add to the list, contact Signposts for Carers or 01803 666620.
Plan a regular break from caring. Besides planning in a break for you, it is always worth encouraging the person you care for try some ‘replacement care’ services such as day care or a short break in residential care, or staying with other family members. That way, if you do have an emergency or need an unplanned break, everyone will know what to expect and some of the practicalities will have already been sorted. If you need someone to encourage them to do this, speak to your health or social care worker if you have one, or maybe a close friend / someone they will listen to if you haven’t.
‘This Is Me’ or ‘Me and My Life’. For people with learning disability or dementia, these booklets are invaluable for letting other people know about their likes and dislikes etc. Staff will not have time to read them for an emergency admission, (so it may be worth doing a ‘Me at Home’ summary for that), but for a longer stay, it will really help the staff know how to behave with them.