emergency careCare needs are nothing if not unpredictable.

While we would all enjoy stable health, the reality is that our medical status frequently changes.

If you're an older adult or suffer from an existing disability or illness, these changes can be sudden and without warning.

At times, they may lead to a hospital admission, or at the very least a change in the support you need.

What Is Emergency Care?

Emergency care provides for urgent needs, including deterioration in medical status from illness or disability, or as the result of the absence of a regular carer.

When Is It Appropriate?

Emergency care can be implemented in a variety of scenarios.

As the name implies however, unlike regular case reviews and tweaks to existing care packages, there often isn't much time for planning.

In the case of complex medical conditions, a deterioration in function may be quick and unexpected. 

Conditions like Motor Neurone Disease often necessitate specialist nursing care and although they're monitored closely, can sometimes be subject rapid change.

In situations where an individual is receiving palliative care and suffering deteriorating health, extra help may be required on short notice to maintain their quality of life and ease the burden on friends and family.

Unexpected events, such as a slip, trip or fall for an elderly person can cause serious injury and associated mobility issues. Activities that were once easy suddenly become impossible without help. If family and friends can't step in, a support package will usually assist recovery.

In all cases, it may be that emergency care is required to prevent a hospital admission. Alternatively, if someone's already in hospital, they might need to organise a fast package of care to get them back to full fitness. 

This might be true after an operation, when an individual's health is expected to improve with time and rehabilitation. Such care is often short term, especially when easing the transition from hospital to home. 

However, if there's a permanent deterioration in an individual's health, they may have to remain on the same level of care indefinitely.

What Types Of Emergency Care Are There?

Home Care

Home care offers a broad range of services, can be set up quickly, and is delivered to you. It could be for a short visit once or twice a day, or 24-hour assistance.

Residential Care

If you don't have the support network around you or require more input, residential care could be a good option. Staff are on call round the clock to cover resident's needs.

Nursing Care

Traditionally called nursing homes (now care homes with nursing), this intervention caters for more complex health conditions and specialist needs such as ventilator, catheter and wound care.

Respite Care

Emergency respite care may be arranged when your regular carer is taken ill suddenly or they're unable to fulfil their normal duties. In this case you may need a quick support package to assist you with your activities of daily living.

care information

What Services Are Available?

Most normal care services can be provided in an emergency situation:

  • Companionship
  • Supervision
  • Help with shopping
  • Meal preparation
  • Domestic assistance
  • Medication support
  • Personal care - washing, dressing and toileting
  • Mobility help, including transfers and rehabilitation
  • Nursing care

How Long Will It Take to Receive Emergency Care?

With this type if intervention, time is of the essence. Therefore, a rapid response assessment is usually carried out. 

If going through a private agency, this can usually be conducted within a few hours, with intervention being arranged within a day or two.

How Do I Arrange It?

Stress is often a serious factor for families dealing with urgent care needs. 

Often they may be unaware of the services available, leading to confusion and overwhelm.

Emergency support is best approached with a collaborative mindset.

If you're currently at home and facing a crisis, it's best to speak to your loved one's GP, who'll be able to arrange an NHS or local authority assessment.

Alternatively, they may be able to advise on a reputable local care provider.

If your loved one is currently in hospital and awaiting discharge, it's likely that a team will assess what's needed to cope at home. 

You should be able to speak to their doctor, nurse, physiotherapist, occupational therapist or social worker for more information.