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How to Prepare for Emergencies at Home for Home Bound Patients

The idea of emergencies can be daunting. However, being prepared for them is a step everyone needs to take. In hospice care, helping patients prepare for emergencies comes down to a few helpful key points. Hopefully, with a good understanding of readiness, you can be well-prepared to handle an emergency and move past it with a strong and repairing solution! 

Being aware of possible emergencies 

The most important thing when it comes to preparing for emergencies for patients in hospice is to consider the possibilities that can occur. These can come in various natures, such as a sudden deterioration in a patient’s health, a disturbance in the patient’s environment, or a technical failure in the equipment. By brainstorming possible emergencies, you can start planning possible solutions, such as having backup materials, personnel, and facilities. This might also include having backup stashes of medications specific to the patient’s condition, an alternative area or location for the patient to stay in/at, and having a list of trusted individuals for immediate notice, such as members of their medical team, religious advisors, or family/friends they might want to speak to in a time of distress. Being aware of a situation that could arise and knowing what may cause it is the first step of preparation. For example, a sudden decline in the patient can be more navigable if one educates themselves about what medical causes they have and how it affects their physical condition. This involves being well-researched and prepared for the patient’s medical parameters and open communication with their healthcare providers. All situations can be planned for by involving the patient, hospice staff, primary care physicians, and all directly related persons. 

Keeping an emergency contact list 

Having this reliable group leads to the next important point: keeping an emergency contact list. Having a roster of medical staff and family close to the patient is a great way to prepare for an emergency. This roster should be made available and accessible in case of any emergency. On this list, you should include people who know how to deal with various problems; for example, these people should have skills such as being pharmacologically responsible, knowledgeable about using medical equipment, emotionally intelligent, etc. Be sure to think of all possible problems that could arise in an emergency and assign at least one person to help. The list should also include people’s contact information in the form of whatever is most likely to be received (email, text, phone call, etc.). However, in the end, you don’t want a list that is too long or crowded, so it helps to narrow it down to the most pressing/probable problems that arise and choose the most qualified people for those areas. Such a list means delays can be avoided, and the appropriate person can be reached quickly. It’s also important to make this list available to everyone involved so that they know they might be called to respond in such a situation and that the patient and other caretakers can easily refer to it should they need help in an emergency.  

Being involved in the patient’s daily routine  

Another essential part of being prepared for emergencies is to be prepared outside of emergencies. Being involved with the caretaking routine will help you familiarize yourself with the medication, equipment, and communication. Always document what medications are administered to the patient, what procedures are carried out, what symptoms they show, and more. Such a record is best if it includes medication type, the timings of administrations, the dosages, etc. Extend this carefulness to medical equipment as well! Being prepared outside of emergencies means being familiar with the equipment and having spares, backups, and the resources to fix anything that could go wrong. In both the machinery maintenance and medicine monitoring, make sure to be well-organized and thorough so all records are legible and comprehensible when looked back on. 

Additionally, have open and clear communication between all parties caring for the patient. It can be easy to miss or overlook a detail if it was committed by someone else, so having that accessible and used by everyone allows for a central base that keeps everyone in the loop. By having a reliable account of the patient, patterns are easily recognizable, and things that are out of order are easy to identify and correct. Concerning emergencies, having a record of recent events and open communication can help identify where something might have gone wrong and, from there, figure out what to do as the next and appropriate course of action. 

Rehearse drills for emergencies 

Another useful tip to prepare for emergencies is to rehearse. Run drills and practices so that the patient and all their caretakers can be used to doing the steps that they would need to in case of an emergency. As with fire and weather drills, being familiar with the steps required is a valuable measure that makes it easier to act without panicking when an emergency arises. Sometimes, the shock of a sudden emergency can cause a person to fumble or hesitate when making a decision, but knowing a plan beforehand and being used to carrying it out means that when the time comes, there will be little to no need to hesitate. The steps needed will be as easy as routine! This applies beyond fire and weather conditions and extends to the personnel involved by way of training exercises and such. For example, while everyone on the caretaking team may be CPR certified, regular review and practice will make the administration of CPR on a patient much easier if the situation requires it. With frequent reviews and training sessions, everyone involved in the patient’s care and the patient themselves can successfully maneuver through whatever comes their way. 

Remember, these tips can be very helpful, but an emergency plan always needs personalization, revision, and updating. Don’t be vague; address the issues relevant to the patient. As habits or routines change, so should accommodations. Be sure to include new procedures, medications, habits, workers, equipment, etc., in the emergency plans and practices. Lastly, be able to trust in the plans you make, and the people involved in executing them as well! Hopefully, with some honing, you’ll be able to handle whatever comes your way, and the patient will rest assured. 

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