A report released by the Department of Health and Human Services in April reveals that in many nursing homes, planning for natural disasters is disturbingly inadequate. Although the report found that ninety-two percent of nursing homes have plans in place for dealing with disasters, these plans are often incomplete or leave the homes with challenges in the face of an unexpected situation. Nearly a quarter of the homes were unable to describe how they would handle medical records and medications. Shockingly, not a single nursing home had made preparations for clean drinking water for residents and workers when faced with a hurricane, tornado, or other unforeseen circumstance. Although a similar report was released in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina, it appears from the current study that disaster plans have not greatly improved.
Safety of an elderly loved one is always a paramount concern when selecting a nursing home. Emergency preparedness is an aspect of this safety that we rarely consider. The National Consumer Voice for Long Term Care has put together a list of questions to help families in this regard when selecting a nursing home. Often the health and safety of our elderly loved ones is subject to the training and preparation of the staff of the nursing home. It is important to consider this training and preparation with respect to emergency situations as well when selecting a nursing home.
Resource: When Disaster Strikes the Nursing Home
New York Times, Judith Graham, May 10, 2012