Nursing home preparedness?
Last month an expose published in USA Today reported that 40% of nursing homes, while required by federal law to have an emergency response/disaster plan in place, were unable to respond.
The story, published in USA Today stated
“A detailed, well-rehearsed emergency plan is a basic requirement for disaster preparedness. But at one home, the emergency plan was in several boxes. At another one, it was on a legal pad.”
The statistics from this report are staggering:
“Nationally, more than 3 million people spent at least some time in a nursing home during 2009, according to the latest available data. Nearly 40 percent of them, 1.2 million, were in the top 10 disaster-prone states.”
And these are the statistics from 2009. I can only imagine that the numbers have gone up since then . . .
Why does nursing home preparedness matter to me?
I have two family members currently residing in assisted living facilities in Virginia: My mother, age 82, and my mentally retarded sister, age 51. My mother can hardly walk, and my sister is just now learning to walk again after suffering a seizure that resulted in a broken ankle and torn ligaments requiring surgical repair. Neither of these two women would be able to care for themselves if the facility in which they reside were destroyed by a tornado, flood, or fire. Nor would they be able to move unassisted in an evacuation. And both of them are on some serious medications.
There are over 250 nursing homes and assisted living facilities in our Greater Philadelphia region with an average of about 125 beds each. That means that more than 31,000 people in our area reside in extended care situations. All facilities receiving federal funds through Medicare and Medicaid are required by federal law to have an emergency response plan in place.
But this USA Today report raises an interesting question.
If you have a family member in a local extended care facility, do you know how well that facility is prepared? What if your loved one needed to be evacuated?
While FEMA, the Department of Homeland Security, and the American Red Cross are working together to increase awareness about disaster preparedness for homeowners and business owners, the nursing home population is often forgotten in preparedness planning.
Last year, around this time, I discussed the 8 basics of personal or family preparedness on this blog. When I wrote that, I hadn’t thought much about our disabled or handicapped neighbors in nursing homes. After the USA Today report, I’m now taking steps to make sure my mom and sister have at least these 8 basics in place – just in case.
The next time you’re visiting with your loved one in the nursing home, stop by the administrative office and ask to see the facility’s Emergency Response Plan. If they can’t put their hands on it easily, that might give you a clue about the level of the facility’s preparedness. If you have any doubts about the facility’s plan, don’t hesitate to refer them to PuroClean Emergency Recovery Services. Emergency Preparedness Planning is one of the things we do because it’s part of our mission: