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How you can make a senior-friendly disaster preparedness plan

Posted by Dude Solutions Canada, Inc. | Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Every facilities manager knows the importance of having a plan in place in the event disaster strikes. Whether it's an evacuation procedure, a communication network or emergency supplies, it's crucial to not just have these plans in place but to also make sure that everyone in your building is familiar with them.

For senior living facilities the process can be more complicated, however. The duty of care staff members have to the residents and their safety is the first priority. However, seniors can impose unique considerations that you should take into account when planning for the worst. Here are some things to keep in mind so you can ensure that your residents are kept safe and happy, even in an emergency.

Know your residents

Chances are you're familiar with most of the people living in your facility already, but it's a good idea to brush up anyway. This serves a couple of purposes - not only can it foster a better relationship with residents, but it can also help call attention to specific things that need to be addressed for your disaster plan. For example, if there are seniors who aren't independently mobile, you will need to devise a way to assist them if the building needs to be evacuated. Similarly, essential equipment like walkers, wheelchairs or other medical supplies should be specially accounted for so they don't get left behind. This can also help you determine how much time is needed for a proper evacuation, taking things like seniors' mobility into account.

Make kits

The American Red Cross suggested that having a disaster kit is an essential part of preparing for a crisis. You can assist your residents by providing these for seniors. In addition to the basics, like water, flashlights, blankets and first aid, you should also be sure to include things like medication for those with chronic health conditions. You may also prefer to simply alert residents to the importance of creating and maintaining these kits themselves, rather than taking the task on yourself.

Establish a communication network

Maintaining effective communication is essential in any disaster situation, but when you're evacuating a facility housing seniors, some of whom may be ill, it's especially essential. There are several axes that you should consider. Not only should you be able to reliably communicate with residents and staff members, but you should also create a network that keeps family members and loved ones in the loop as well. For people who have relatives in an assisted living facility, not knowing their status during a natural disaster can be terrifying. Even something as simple as a phone tree or text message notification system can offer valuable peace of mind in a crisis.


Evacuating a building may seem simple, but in the chaos of a natural disaster even that seemingly innocuous task can devolve into chaos quickly, especially if residents and staff members have never had to do it before. Drills are an important part of any disaster preparedness plan, and it's a good idea to implement it into your senior living facility's contingency as well. The Red Cross recommended performing drills every six months, though you may decide to do so more regularly to accommodate residents who have difficulty moving quickly.

How you can make a senior-friendly disaster preparedness plan