4.1 Why is an emergency care plan necessary?
Emergency care plans acknowledge the expertise and dedication of carers, and their responsibility in ensuring that as much as possible is done to make sure that the cared-for person continues to receive the care they need. The plans can be made either by the cared-for person or by their carers. However, whoever designs the emergency care plan, it is likely to consist of several similar elements.
Consider for a moment the wide range of activities performed by carers at every minute of every day. Depending on the situation, carers wash the cared-for person, dress them, administer their medication, help them use the toilet and clean themselves, take them shopping and advocate on the cared-for person’s behalf. These are just a small sample of roles and responsibilities that carers fulfil. When the carer is not available, the emergency care plan is one way that the cared-for person’s needs and preferences can be communicated to others.
It is important at this stage to point out that a situation where an emergency care plan is enacted is not a situation in which the cared-for person is subjected to additional restrictions. It is necessary to ensure that risk is managed in the best interests of the cared-for person, and that any risk management plan is implemented considering the potential positive benefits to that person. So, for example, if the normal carer is not available and less experienced carers take their place, it does not necessarily mean that any activities that the cared-for person normally does for themselves should not continue.
An emergency care plan is not just a document, it is a process. The process should involve preliminary discussions with the cared-for person, their family and carers. The discussions would attempt to foresee any potential emergencies for which the care plan is necessary and plan for them. This might need more than one conversation. At this stage the mental capacity of the cared-for person is discussed and an assessment arranged if it is thought necessary. (Mental capacity is discussed in Topic 1 of this section.)