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Preparing to care – a checklist and practical guide

Preparing to care – a checklist and practical guide

Prepare to care

Planning ahead will save time and stress should you find yourself in an emergency situation with your parents or relatives, particularly if you’re a distance away.

Being prepared is the order of the day.  We’ve compiled a list of things it would be worth finding out before you might actually need them.

It may all sound obvious, but getting the information together will take time and effort. It may also be a good way to start conversations with your relative about how they’re really coping.

So be ready for any eventuality with our simple checklist and practical guide.


1. Keys 

Who has front door keys? Is there a spare set somewhere? Should there be a keysafe outside? Is there a burglar alarm and do you know the code? Where are the other keys – for the garage, garden shed, the kitchen drawer or desk where all the useful information may be stored.

2. Neighbours and friends

This might be stating the obvious, but do you have contact details for friends and neighbours who you can call on, particularly if you don’t live close by?

3. Contact details

Really useful to have a list of all relevant contacts, from the doctor, the local vicar, priest or rabbi, any carers or regular visitors, as well as lawyers, accountants and other key people you may need to contact.

4. Medical History

Allergies, previous surgery, chronic conditions, current medication, especially if your parent is on blood thinners like Warfarin (in case you need this information out of hours when the doctor cannot be contacted).

5. Legal Stuff 

You should check with your parents that they have written a will and that you know where the latest copy is. You should also discuss with them drawing up a Power of Attorney and an Advance Directive well in advance of the potential need for either.

6. Passwords 

Potentially a legal minefield regarding agreements with providers and data protection… but at the very least it is worth knowing the main login details and password to a computer, with details of online accounts, and what is stored where on the computer such as photographs.

7. The folder

Encourage your parents, relatives or friends to compile a folder of all information that you might one day need, or at least directions on where to find everything if you need to.  If possible ask for a copy of all of the key information in the folder. Get the key info in a folder on your computer too and log the important numbers into your phone. You will probably want to include:

  1. Bank account details
  2. National Insurance number, passport number
  3. Where to find passports, driving licence, birth certificate, marriage certificate
  4. Vehicle ownership paperwork
  5. Personal and other insurance details, including private health insurance details and house insurance
  6. Important contact details – GP, carers, other agencies, neighbours and other relevant people
  7. Copy of the will – or where to find it, as well as any relevant lists of bequests
  8. Copy of any Power of Attorney and Advance Directive
  9. Keys, safe and security alarm details
  10. Passwords
  11. And finally, but probably No 1 on many lists: instructions for what to do with the pets!

Planning ahead – A Practical Guide

An emergency plan can involve anything from what to do in case of an environmental or medical emergency, to future advanced care planning, or making sure a will is in place.

planning ahead

Developing a plan that addresses all of these factors will ensure that you know what the next vital steps are when faced with an urgent, unexpected or emergency situation.

An emergency plan is a road map for you (and other people in the family) to follow in a time of crisis, that is based on the wishes of your parent or relative.

Here are a few ways to plan for your parents’ futures and the hard decisions you may need to make as a family.

Why make a plan?

Having a well laid out plan will help you make the best choices on behalf of your parent or loved one if they are unable to make their own decisions, as well as ensuring everyone in the family is on the same page. Planning ahead can relieve a lot of unnecessary stress in an already difficult time.

Avoiding open and honest conversations about care in later life may have negative consequences later on. Planning ahead and taking time to establish your loved one’s personal wishes ensures that their expectations become reality.

Have The Meeting

Think about setting up a planned meeting with all concerned. Have an agenda containing all the main points that need addressing. It sounds rather businesslike, but it can focus the minds around the table and makes it less personality-led. Avoid trying to do this at a family social get-together like Christmas or a birthday celebration. Think about a Skype call to bring in family members who may not be able to be present.

If more help is needed

If an elderly loved-one is admitted to hospital, perhaps following a fall, it is unlikely that they will be able to leave until there are suitable care arrangements in place.

Often poor choices are made in a frantic effort just to get them home, so once you have decided whether you are looking for in-home care from an agency or a care home, you should then start looking at the services in your area:

  • Recommendations: Ask locally for recommendations.
  • Search Online: Search local care providers online.
  • Shortlist: Create a shortlist of the companies that provide the services you require.
  • Check Reports: Check their latest report on the CQC website.
  • Read Reviews: Look for any reviews and testimonials they have.
  • Call Providers: Call providers to ask questions.
  • Age Space local hubs have a wealth of information to help

Need a little more help?

Personal Alarms are little pendants that your parent can wear that can be used to get help in case of emergency e.g. a fall.

Think about the carer(s)

You, or whoever is likely to be the carer, or carers, for your relative, should check out what their own position would be should they need time off work. 

All employees have the legal right to take a ‘reasonable’ amount of time off work to deal with an emergency involving a dependant. Whether the time off is paid or not is at the discretion of your employer.

Carers UK has useful information about carers’ rights when it comes to work.

Cover all the bases

You may be thinking about alternatives, including your parents moving in with you, or providing more care at home

If you’ve found yourself in this situation, it would be great to know what things were most important to you when planning ahead, and how you dealt with it. Join the conversation in the Age Space Forum.