5. Staying safe and managing crises

Creating a crisis plan

Knowing what to do in case of an emergency—before it actually happens—can be very helpful for everyone. Having a discussion with your relative, your family and the treatment team about a crisis plan can reduce the level of distress for everyone involved.

A crisis plan will help you deal with a crisis or emergency situation. Your plan should include information, strategies and concrete steps for handling difficult situations. Discuss who to call, where to go and the names and numbers of supportive emergency contacts (e.g., police, psychiatrist, support worker, other family and friends). Include plans for the care of other family members (e.g., children, elderly parents).

Make sure your relative is actively involved and participates in the discussion about a crisis plan when they are well so their preferences are heard and respected. Having a crisis plan shifts the focus from being reactive, fearful and tense to being proactive and prepared for a crisis or emergency. Some families find it extremely helpful to keep a list of important phone numbers (e.g., friends, health care workers, police) on a small card or piece of paper inside their wallet or their relative’s wallet in case of an emergency.

Making a plan is a process. You should periodically update a crisis plan so it reflects you and your relative’s current situation. For example, your supports may change over time.