Elderly Women With Carer

How to tell if someone in your care is becoming unwell

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How to tell if someone in your care is becoming unwell

​As a carer, you'll know that a person's health can deteriorate quickly, and failing to act promptly can have serious consequences. People with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable because they often rely on others to spot the signs that they are unwell.

Signs of potential deteriorating health

  • Change in consciousness or awareness including subtle changes such as increased anxiety, confusion or restlessness

  • Change in heart and circulation changes in heart/pulse rate, dizziness, feeling faint, chest pain, sweating

  • High (above 37.5°C) or low (35°C or below) body temperature, chills or shivering

  • Change in breathing – breaths sound different to usual, using effort to breathe, nostrils flaring when breathing, cough

  • Change in skin colour – mottling of the skin, rash, pallor, bluish tinge to lips

  • Change in bowels – diarrhoea or vomiting, distended abdomen

  • Change in urine output, change in quantity, colour or smell of urine

How to reduce risk

  • Make yourself aware of the needs of those in your care.

  • Listen to the concerns of others who know the person well, and act on these.

  • Use your intuition – if you think the person’s health is deteriorating it probably is, so act on your ‘gut instincts’

  • Use assessments such as recording body temperature, but don’t rely on these measures alone Look at the whole person - don’t just focus on one part of the body or symptom

  • Communicate concerns effectively so you share the important information and get the response you need

For additional help and advice 7 days a week, from 8 am to 8 pm please contact Clinical Governance on 0117 911 9677.


Somerset County Council