Having a plan makes things less stressful when a crisis occurs.

It is helpful to think about the kinds of crises that might occur because of your health and make a list of the help that is available, especially at night or on the weekend. Your nurse can help you to make a plan.

Generally, crisis care involves ‘out of hours’ telephone support or home visits from members of the health care team (eg nurses). You could also consider getting a personal response system, such as an alert pendant, with a button to call for help in a crisis.

Case study

Mrs Adams

Mrs Adams is an elderly lady who lives alone in her home. She is very frail and often unsteady on her feet. She wears a personal response system alert pendant around her neck, 24 hours a day. It is waterproof, so she can even wear it in the shower. If Mrs Adams falls or needs help and is unable to reach the phone, she can press the button on the pendant. This will alert a call centre, even if she is in her garden, and Mrs Adams’ family will be contacted. Having the alert pendant reassures Mrs Adams and her family that she will get help in a crisis.

What the research shows

If you are an older person with an illness that affects how long you will live, if you are frail, or if you are extremely elderly, having access to crisis care can have health benefits for you and your family carer.

What the experts agree upon

Having a plan for what to do in a crisis can avoid anxiety, even if a crisis never happens.

Those providing a palliative approach for older people living at home need to work with the older person and their family carer to develop a plan for crises that may occur.

What this means for older people

Ask your health professional what services are available to you after hours. Ask for help to make a plan for what to do in case of a health crisis.

See the Community Care Guidelines for more details (see page 7).