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November 2017

Care for people affected by emergencies

Checklist for Senior Managers Responsible for Caring for People

If an emergency was to happen today:

  • are you fully prepared to lead the response of your organisation in caring for people affected?
  • can your organisation, alone, resolve all of the problems encountered by those affected by emergencies? If not is your work co-ordinated and integrated with the other agencies that care for people?
  • have you trained and exercised for your personal role?
  • are you confident that your organisation's arrangements for preparation and caring for people following emergencies are auditable and will withstand scrutiny in the event of a public inquiry?
  • does your formal role recognise your management responsibilities for preparation and caring for people affected by emergencies?
  • is your organisation prepared to support you in your management role?
  • are you prepared and ready to lead a multi-agency Care for People Team?
  • have you trained and exercised for the lead role in the multi-agency Care for People Team?

Does your organisation:

  • have arrangements in place to play its part in the Care for People Team?
  • authorise you to lead the Care for People Team if necessary?
  • have a scheme of delegation that gives you authority to deploy resources and incur expenditure?
  • provide for the welfare of staff who will deal with an emergency and its effects, in the short and long term?
  • have a documented Risk Register founded on an assessment of the impacts of risks on caring for people?
  • support functional staff in preparing for emergencies?
  • formally approve Care for People arrangements?
  • have complementary arrangements (property, finance, communications, etc.) to support care for people?
  • have arrangements that are documented and clearly and easily accessible for both staff and the public?
  • have arrangements that provide an audit trail of resources deployed, when, why and by whom, to facilitate cost recovery?
  • have a policy to support staff called to give evidence at public inquiries?



This document is part of the Preparing Scotland suite of guidance. Preparing Scotland guidance is set out as a "Hub and Spokes" model. The central hub incorporates the philosophy and principles of resilience Scotland, governance structures, regulatory guidance and recommended good practice. The spokes, of which this guidance is part, provide detailed guidance on specific matters. This guidance relates to Care for People.

Users who are familiar with the structures and processes of resilience in Scotland may use this Care for People guidance in isolation. For those unfamiliar with these structures it is recommended that this guidance is read in conjunction with the central hub, Preparing Scotland.

To allow a deeper understanding of how best to promote resilience and recovery, this document should be read in conjunction with the full suite of documents mentioned above and in particular the supplement “Responding to the Psychosocial and Mental Health Needs of People Affected by Emergencies”.

A summary of the legislation and the related duties and structures underpinning responding to emergencies is included at Annex A.

The basic principles in the Care for People guidance and content have not changed. The substantive change has been to restructure the format to align it with the format of the Psychosocial supplement which has made it possible to embed references to Psychosocial First Aid where appropriate. We have also taken the opportunity to incorporate elements from the related UK Guidance which included the incorporation of case studies.

The guidance has been recently updated and re-ordered - with a view that it will be re-visited in 2018 to ascertain how fit-for-purpose it is given developments in the Care for People field.


Purpose of Guidance

Preparing Scotland, Care for People Affected by Emergencies, is not intended to be an operations manual, but is instead guidance to responders assisting them in planning and response. It establishes good practice based on professional expertise, legislation and lessons learned from planning for and dealing with major emergencies at all levels. It is intended to be a flexible and responsive document, able to respond to new hazards and threats as well as those more frequently encountered.

Helping people to cope with the immediate and longer-term personal impact emergencies is a vitally important part of effective response and recovery. The ability of responders to deal with and support the human aspects of an emergency, both physical and psychosocial, will determine the success of their overall endeavours.

Experience has shown that the needs of individuals and communities affected by emergencies are diverse and complex. They are influenced by a variety of factors and may change over time. This guidance provides advice on the establishment of flexible and adaptable arrangements that allow responders to manage the provision of personal support at all times following an emergency.

It is important to recognise communities’ ability and desire to be involved in their own recovery. From the outset the relationship between the people affected, their communities and the responding agencies is crucially important.


Defining “Care for People”

Emergencies have wide-ranging effects on individuals, their families, friends and the communities in which they live or they are connected.

Emergencies affect people’s personal, social and economic lives. The impact may be transient or prolonged.

Care for People lies at the heart of any emergency response. It is demonstrated by:

  • the life-saving activities of the emergency services
  • the practical and emotional support activities offered by the professional health and Local Authority services, and others
  • the work of volunteers, community resilience groups, faith groups, friends and neighbours, in helping those affected and rebuilding communities.


Care for People covers activities that are aimed at providing support to meet people’s practical and emotional needs after an emergency. Support may be required for weeks, months and years following the incident. The direct physical effects on people’s lives maybe readily seen, while the impacts on people’s mental health and wellbeing may be less obvious and are sometimes hidden. Minimising the suffering of individual people, families and communities, and averting the risk of emotional and psychological injury are important parts of the response to any emergency.

In this guidance "Care for People" embraces the actions taken to promote the wellbeing of all people affected by emergencies. It does not include the immediate lifesaving activities which are well provided for by the emergency services, but it does include meeting the essential needs of survivors when removed from danger. It encompasses:

  • the support provided for individuals’ personal, physical, practical and health needs
  • direct intervention to assist groups and individuals
  • caring for people affected by insidious and slow developing emergencies that affect their lives in less dramatic but, nonetheless, harmful ways
  • sustaining and, if necessary, contributing to the regeneration of communities as part of the recovery process.


Care for People covers a diverse range of activities. The following chapters in this guidance provide advice on how to identify, plan and deliver the activities in a consistent and co-ordinated approach to support those affected by emergencies.

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