‘What If plans’, or ‘emergency plans’ are written plans which inform others of what we, or the person we look after need. This is helpful for circumstances where we can't undertake our caring role at any particular time.
How helpful is a 'What If' plan for carers?
When I first started caring, the idea of a ‘What If plan’ seemed terrifying. I found it daunting to think about what would happen if I couldn’t be there to care for my brother.
When I thought of ‘What if’, I always thought of the worst possible scenario. Partly, because I am a worrier. But also because it would take an awful lot for me not to be there. Having spoken to other carers, I know I’m not alone in this.
Now, my family’s ‘What If plan’ is the most powerful tool in my caring arsenal. It is the glue to my caring building blocks, holding together all of the important information including the key contacts, top priorities and all of the need-to-knows. In case of emergency, this plan also outlines the key contacts and all the important information needed if we are unable to be there. Ultimately, it is our peace of mind.
Try our Emergency Planning for Carers which was created by our Head of Carer Support Suzanne, who is a carer herself and has been through the process.
When I asked carers about their advice on writing a ‘What If plan’, one said,
“Start small with the basics and add when you think of things.”
Every carer’s experience is unique and so each plan is different but there are templates to help – we can access Mobilise’s ready-made templates at the bottom of this page.
If you are thinking about writing a ‘What If plan’, my top tip is this:
Don’t get bogged down in the ‘What if’ and focus on the ‘What now’.
I used to spend far too much time worrying about all the possible reasons why I might not be there which left me feeling vulnerable and a little too human.
I decided that I needed a new approach and so my ‘What If’ evolved into a scenario where I was planning a week away. I could then focus on the ‘What now?’. This allowed me to look at my caring situation from the outside and identify all of the things that needed to be done, who could undertake these responsibilities and what was most important to my brother.
Here's the next part...
Once you have a ‘What If plan’ written, the next part is ensuring it is up to date and accessible when you or others need it. Some local councils and carer organisations offer Carer’s Emergency Cards which are displayed in a wallet.
Medical staff may also be trained to gain information from your phone. For example, iPhones have an emergency setting where you can include key contacts and medical information, which could also include notes on your ‘What if plan’ and where to find it.
Carers in the Mobilise community have also shared innovative ways they store their ‘What If plan’ such as:
On a Google document with the link engraved on a medical bracelet.
Keeping a copy of prescriptions in the medicine cabinet and communication folders located by the front door.
Lions Message in a Bottle scheme but the important thing to remember is that you and the important people know where the information is.
It is for this reason, that a ‘What If’ plan could be a great addition to your caring toolkit.
Why not set aside some time this week to write down the most important things to you and your loved one as the first building block of your ‘What If plan’? If you would like a simple template to get you started you can request this below.
Further, you may also find our Emergency and Helpful Numbers handy for knowing where to access support.