Eight older people just died in a Florida Nursing Home after Hurricane Irma ravaged Florida. Their deaths appear to be from extreme heat when their backup generator failed air conditioners after 1/2 of Florida’s power has not been restored. It is at present a criminal investigation.Now all Florida nursing homes are being inspected
This points to two disaster preparedness steps I suggest —-first to families of elders and second for professionals.
Alert to families, even if your loved one is in s skilled nursing home or assisted living, don’t assume they are safe. Know when you place them (and update each year), the facility disaster’ and evacuation plan. Make sure before you choose a facility this complies with state codes.Call The state Ombudsman.
As Irma approached, I suggested to a friend here in California, that she find out her parents Florida Assisted Living facility, disaster, and evacuation plan. They lived in an independent apartment in a CCRC. The Dad is 98 and the Mom 96.
Mom is mid-state Alzheimer’s and Dad is mentally clear but frail. My friend had never thought about a disaster plan even with a looming hurricane that would envelop the entire state.
As the Monster cat 5 hurricane approached, she thought her parents in safe hands in a what she termed a ” great” facility. When she called, her contact at the facility was in Rhode Island, which I thought strange in a disaster like a hurricane. Since her parents lived in an independent apartment, the contact told her they had to make their own arrangements. There had been a meeting telling residents how to prepare but, she had no idea if the Dad had was at the meeting.
I was floored. The family knew nothing about this disaster preparedness meeting. The Dad was 98. What was the evacuation plan, did they have safety supplies – like flashlights days of food, water? My friend was in California.
Here is the moral to the story.
My advice to any family with a loved one in a facility of any kind, do not just assume your elders are safe. Get a copy the facility emergency plan, evacuation plan, know that they will contact you and if not why (in the case of my friend they said folks in independent living were in charge of their own emergency plans. )Make this a check off in shopping for a facility for loved ones. Global warming has brought an increase in these mega disasters and no matter where your parent resides they are vulnerable to earthquake, flood tornado, hurricane, polar vortex or fire – it is not if but a big when you need to do this.
For professionals –have this information on file about any facility a client is placed. Make sure they adhere to state laws, update it each year and if it does not make sense to you, do not use them.
For more information, the University of Florida, Home of Disaster filled hurricanes has a great set of directions.
Call a geriatric care manager to manage the plan if you live long distance and make sure the facility is inspected and safe in a disaster.
Professionals check out the Preparing for Emergencies-chapter in Handbook of Geriatric Care Management fourth edition, by Liz Barlowe on Disaster planning