Guardian Carers Feature on BBC News London

6 essential First Aid skills all carers should know

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6 essential First Aid skills all carers should know

These days, many of us have caring roles, both personally and professionally. There has been much talk in the press about the ‘sandwich generation’, where people in their 30s and 40s are now not only caring for their children but are caring for elderly parents too.

People are living longer, and families are growing increasingly responsible for the care of elderly relatives. There are also home carers, foster carers, professional carers and those working in care homes.

Carers do essential work looking after the more vulnerable population with physical and learning disabilities. Many people don’t realise they count as a carer. Being a carer does not necessarily mean you are caring for someone 24 hours a day. You may be doing fewer hours but still providing critical support to someone.

Carers have a wide range of responsibilities and keeping those in their care safe is paramount. No matter how vigilant they are, accidents and medical emergencies do happen – and that is why first aid training is vital.

Accident statistics from RoSPA 2020:

  • The home is the most common location for an accident to happen
  • Every year across the UK, there are approximately 6,000 deaths as a result of home accidents
  • Children under the age of five years and people in later life (those over the age of 65, and particularly those over 75) are most likely to have an accident at home
  • Falls are the most common accidents and can cause serious injury in any stage of life, but the risk increases with age
  • Surprisingly, more accidents happen in the lounge/living room than anywhere else in the home

Prompt and appropriate first aid saves lives, prevents minor injuries from becoming major ones and can reduce pain and scarring. Ensuring carers would be confident and competent coping in a medical emergency is vital for the well-being of the person they care for.

Click here for an online First Aid for Carers course


If someone is choking you must stay calm

  • 1. Encourage the child or adult to cough
  • 2. If this doesn’t work bend them forward, supporting them on their chest with the other hand and use the flat of your hand to give a sharp back blow between the shoulder blades. Check to see if the blockage has cleared before giving another blow.
  • 3. If the blockage hasn’t cleared after five blows, begin abdominal thrusts. Stand behind the person and place one hand in a fist between their belly button and their rib cage. Use the other hand to pull up and under in a J shaped motion, to dislodge the obstruction. Perform abdominal thrusts up to 5 times, checking each time to see if the obstruction has cleared.
  • 4. If the person is still choking, call 999 and alternate 5 back blows and 5 abdominal thrusts until emergency help arrives

Click here to find out how to help a choking baby


If someone is bleeding you should sit or lie them down and elevate the bleeding area above the level of the heart to slow down the bleeding. Click here to read more about major bleeds and shock


In the UK, an estimated 2 million people are living with a diagnosed food allergy. Anaphylaxis can proceed rapidly and failure to administer adrenaline promptly has been associated with fatalities, therefore it’s essential to know the signs and how to respond in an emergency. To find out why anaphylaxis occurs and be ready to help, click here.


Seizures can be alarming. One in twenty people will have a seizure at some point in their lives, so it’s vital to know what to do to help. For a complete guide on seizures, convulsions and epilepsy click here.


If someone becomes unconscious or won’t stop crying, complains of head or neck pain and isn’t walking normally following a head injury you should call 999 or 112 immediately.

If they are behaving normally, you should:

  • 1. Apply a wrapped ice pack or instant cold pack to the injured area for 10 minutes.
  • 2. Observe the person carefully for the next 24 hours. If you notice any worrying signs get medical help immediately.
  • 3. If the incident has occurred close to bedtime and the person falls asleep soon afterwards, check-in continually to look for anything unusual (twitching limbs or disturbances in colour or breathing)

It is perfectly ok to go to sleep (so long as they are not showing any signs of concussion and there is no risk of confusing tiredness with losing consciousness) – there is no need to stay awake following a head injury.

First Aid for Life specialises in providing exemplary first aid training to comply with the mandatory first aid training requirements for Home Carers, Foster Carers and Care Homes. Their online First Aid course for Carers covers all the necessary aspects of the Care Act and will equip all carers with the skills and confidence to help the specific age groups they are responsible for, in a medical emergency.

They also offer bespoke courses for those working in particular settings, with specific sets of needs. The courses are designed to teach you all you need to know in order to help someone experiencing a medical emergency.

If you want to learn more about their First Aid courses for carers, you can click here or speak to a Guardian Carers consultant on 0207 183 1395 who will advise you.

First Aid for Life is the leading provider of first aid training for carers, families, older people, schools, parents, child carers and health workers and our team of highly experienced medical, health and emergency services professionals will tailor the training to your needs. It is strongly advised that you attend a First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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