7 thoughts on “After natural disasters: coping with resident and staff emotions”

  1. Dr. El,
    Thank you for sharing your informative article. Having been in the facility for both the earthquake and the duration of the hurricane, I experienced, first hand, peoples’ response to these natural disasters. I have suggestions for administration to better prepare for future events as well as to recognize the many staff who went above the call of duty to make sure our residents remained safe and well cared for.

  2. I, too, worked in my nursing home, Saturday while preparations were being made for the storm and then again on Sunday, during the hurricane itself. I was the designated person in charge. I have some suggestions that I would like to make:
    – Good communication – if another person (a higher up) is calling the shots, but is not present, it is important that the person in charge is aware of all directives given.
    – Advance planning – while some things can not be anticipated, good planning minimizes confusion. Asking people to be prepared to remain in the facility if needed is not the same as finding out who will, can, must etc.
    – Designate administrative staff to be on hand for the duration of the emergency. Have a back up plan if necessary. In my facility people were assigned to be “Administrators on Duty.” Other department heads were requested to come in during the weekend to lend a hand. In some situations this may have been fine, however what happens when well intentioned staff are unable to come in due to conditions. If needed administrative staff should be scheduled to remain in the facility and not leave until relief has arrived.

    It seems I had more, but that’s all I can think of right now.

    • Thanks, Anonymous. Good communication is kay, it seems. Decision-makers who aren’t present need to have a clear understanding of conditions and be open to feedback about their decisions from those on-site. Staff members need to have a clear understanding of what’s expected of them and when, and all plans need to be flexible to accommodate the changing situation. For example, it’s all well and good to have a particular staff member assigned to cover a shift, but helpful to have a backup plan if the employee can’t get to work because the road they need to drive to the facility is flooded out.

  3. One more thing –
    I think it is wrong to expect staff to risk their lives to attempt to make it to work during an actual natural disaster. Plans should be established that all necessary staff are in the facility and are be prepared to stay for the duration of the event. (Of course, I’m talking about forecasted events.)

    We may leave our homes thinking it’s not so bad, while a mile away the road may be washed out. Case in point, an entire town in Vermont was washed away while the town next to it remained unscathed.


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