How to tell if someone in your care’s health is deteriorating

How to tell if someone in your care's health is deteriorating

​As a carer, you’ll know that a person’s health can deteriorate quickly, and failing to act promptly can have serious consequences. This is why it’s so important that you are able to tell when someone in your care is becoming unwell.

People with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable because they often rely on others to spot the signs that they are unwell, so it’s especially important to keep an eye out for these when caring for these individuals.

Signs of potential deteriorating health

There are a number of different signs that someone is becoming unwell which you can look out for when caring for others. These include:

  • Change in consciousness or awareness. This could include 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. This could include breathing sounding different to normal, needing to use additional effort to breathe, nostrils flaring when breathing, or coughing.
  • 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, such as a change in quantity, colour or smell of urine

How to reduce risk

When you’re caring for others, there are things that you can do to ensure that the risk of someone in your care becoming unwell is reduced. These include:

  • 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 7 days a week, from 8.30am to 6.30pm, please contact our Clinical Governance team on 0117 911 9677. They’re on hand to offer support when you need it and can advise you when you think that someone in your care is becoming unwell.

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