Louisiana officials recently revoked the licenses of seven nursing homes that evacuated patients to a warehouse where seven of them died ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall. Hurricane Katrina should have been the warning shot when it comes to emergency preparedness in care homes. Unfortunately, that has not been the case. So what should you look for when evaluating a place in terms of the ability to handle emergencies.
Families have many things to consider when choosing care for a loved one. Certainly in this new age, questions such as vaccination rates among staff and mandatory vaccinations are on the table. In light of the increased frequency of dangerous storms, it is important to consider emergency preparedness as an item to evaluate too.
Here are some things to consider.
Does the facility have an emergency plan in writing that you can review?
Are staff and residents trained for the plan and how often is it updated?
Is the facility in a flood or fire zone?
How is the plan communicated to residents and families?
Ask to see state inspection reports for emergency preparedness.
What is their shelter in place plan? How do they handle power outages, temperature fluctuations, oxygen and life support systems, medication refrigeration?
What is their evacuation plan? Where will they go? How will they get there? That last item is very important. During an emergency, a facility may ask you to come and get mom and dad. Are you nearby? Can you transport them safely? Is your home-equipped for short-term living situations?
Here is what you can do to prepare and help a loved one.
You can create your own disaster plan and prepare a supply kit for a loved one. One of the most vital aspects of preparing a plan is knowing how you will communicate with a loved one. What is the WIFI and cellular is out? Consider emergency monitoring systems that incorporate Z-Wave or ZigBee. These are networks that allow devices to communicate with each other without using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, no Internet, modem or router needed. Examples include: Samsung SmartThings Hub; The Wink Hub 2; Samsung Smartthings Smart Home Hub
Gather important phone numbers - family, friends, churches, shelters, aid organizations, care team members.