Disaster and Emergency Preparedness for Senior Living
5 Steps to Creating a Disaster Preparedness Plan
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Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have gained national attention, especially in the healthcare industry. Stories of abandonment, destruction, and even death, within senior living communities, have brought to light a serious issue – lack of preparation.
While watching all the devastation unfold, it starts to sink in that disasters can and will happen. So how can your senior living community prepare for, respond to and recover from one? While you can't always predict when a catastrophic event will occur, you can be proactive by investing in a well-developed emergency preparedness plan.
In September 2016, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new emergency preparedness requirements for healthcare facilities, including long-term and intermediate care facilities. The new requirements address four well-known industry best practice standards; emergency plans, policies and procedures, communication plans and training/testing programs.
The CMS Health Care Provider Guidance for Emergency Preparedness website provides great tools and resources to assist in developing a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan. Here are 5 steps to creating an effective plan:
1. Hazard Identification:
- Decide what hazard(s) could impact your community directly and indirectly.
- Take an all-hazards approach inclusive of natural disasters, infectious disease outbreaks, security threats...etc.
2. Hazard Mitigation:
- Develop action plans to prevent or reduce the likelihood of the event and/or reduce the severity or consequences.
- Decide how you'll care for residents in the event of a disaster and educate staff on how to protect themselves and residents.
- Develop a plan inclusive of how you'll meet the needs of residents if essential services breakdown; address circumstances that will allow you to:
- Provide care and services during an emergency
- Accept additional residents
- Execute your evacuation plan
- Develop and maintain a communication plan that complies with both federal and state laws; resident care must be well-coordinated within the facility, across healthcare providers and with state and local public health departments and emergency systems.
- Implement staff education and training.
- Test the plan with drills and actual incidents, share lessons learned and revise the plan as needed.
- Put your preparedness plan into action, and determine how you'll respond to an emergency.
- Outline actions to take immediately before for an impending threat, during and after a disaster.
- Implement programs during and after an emergency that are designed to return the facility to its usual state or a safe functional status.
Emergencies and disasters are unpredictable and can happen anytime, anywhere. Developing an effective emergency preparedness plan will empower your staff to safely and effectively respond to a disaster.
For more information on disaster preparedness for senior living communities, contact a member of the ‘A’ Team.
- CMS Emergency Preparedness Regulations for Healthcare Facilities Replay
- Disaster E-Book
- Disaster Q&A Video
- Hurricane Safety Checklist
- Flood Safety Checklist
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