Worried about a family member after a visit over Christmas?

10th January 23

Sadly, it is often after Christmas and New Year that we hear from people concerned about the deterioration in the health of a family member – often an elderly parent. Having visited during the festive season they realise that their family member is frailer than ever, and the burden of caring is even heavier for the person who usually looks after them.

Sometimes this person – their carer – is elderly themselves, with their own health challenges. It can be a worrying time. Other extended family members such as grown-up children may live long distances away and wouldn’t be able to step in and help if there was an emergency.

Paul and his sister found themselves in just such a position. Their dad cared for their mum who had dementia, and the couple were both in their eighties.

Paul lived hundreds of miles away, and as his sister was a teacher, she wasn’t allowed her phone in the classroom. Neither of them could respond quickly if for any reason their dad was unable to look after their mum. As Paul’s parents lived in Cambridgeshire, Paul registered for a free What If? emergency plan with Caring Together.

The plan was activated by Caring Together when Paul phoned us one day. His dad had been rushed into hospital and his mum needed care and support. She couldn’t be left alone. We had all their details and emergency contacts on file, so were able to respond very quickly.

Over the next three days our care professionals stepped in to look after Paul’s mum, and make sure that arrangements were made so she would be looked after until Paul’s dad was well enough to do this himself.

Paul told us that it gave him and his sister great peace of mind to know that their mum was being well looked after while their dad was receiving treatment in hospital.

“The speed, efficiency and way it was handled was wonderful”, said Paul, “The help we needed was given incredibly quickly and nothing was too much trouble. It lifted a weight off my mind that Caring Together could take on a difficult situation very quickly and with great compassion.

“The way the situation was handled was outstanding and the team went over and above with great care and attention.”

Setting up a What If? Plan is completely free and available to all carers, and those adults they look after, in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. There is no charge if the plan is activated. If this happens we will get in touch with the nominated emergency contacts, and if necessary, provide care for the person with a disability or long-term health problem.

We can usually provide care for up to three days, but may be able to extend this to five days if longer support is needed. It is easy to register for a What If? Plan and then all you need to do is update it if there are any changes.

You can register online, or by downloading a form, completing and posting it to us. If you need any help completing the form just call us on 0345 241 0954. Once we receive your completed What If? registration form we will send you an emergency card and a special phone number to use. This is then available for you to call 24-hours a day if there is an emergency.

We can even help if you are a carer in Cambridgeshire or Peterborough facing an emergency, and you haven’t already registered a What If? Plan with us. If this happens please get in touch by calling us on 0345 241 0954. We want to make sure that you and the person you look after have all the support you need.

If you have a family member who is disabled, frail due to age, or has a long-term illness, registering for a What If? Plan can give peace of mind and the assurance that if their carer cannot look after them – whether that is you or someone else – they will still be safe and looked after. Paul was so grateful for the support his family received that he chose to make a donation towards our work supporting unpaid carers. Kind contributions like this make the world of difference to the carers we support.

A What If? Plan can prevent a crisis from occurring. As a local charity, we are able to offer this service thanks to funding from Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council. We also offer lots of other support to unpaid carers and those they look after thanks to kind contributions. Just go to our support for carers page to find out more.

For information about emergency planning if you are resident in Norfolk, please see https://www.norfolk.gov.uk/care-support-and-health/get-helpwith-looking-after-someone/prepare-for-emergencies/emergency-carerscard