Is your loved one’s nursing home or other long-term care facility (LTC) prepared for a disaster? You should be able to assume that it is. However, there have been multiple cases throughout the country wherein vulnerable elderly people were transferred to unsafe conditions or abandoned in their care facilities by staff during a disaster. Some didn’t survive.
Here in Rhode Island, these facilities need to be prepared to care for residents or get them safely to another location if a hurricane, superstorm, blizzard, fire or other emergency occurs. Whether you’re looking for a place for a loved one or they’re already living in a care facility, you should ask about the level of preparedness – and expect answers (backed up by evidence) that can give you well-founded peace of mind.
What is the LTC-MAP?
Rhode Island has something called the Rhode Island Long Term Care Mutual Aid Plan (LTC-MAP). Its purpose is to provide a “course of action and an agreed commitment among participating nursing homes and assisted living residences to assist each other as needed in the time of a disaster.” It includes having pre-designated locations to take residents if evacuation is required and an agreement to share staff, equipment, supplies (including medications) and transportation assistance so that the facilities impacted by a disaster get the help they need.
This program is only meant to supplement emergency services provided by local and state agencies. However, it’s important to find out if your loved one’s facility (or any that you’re considering) participates in the LTC-MAP.
Here are a few additional things to inquire about:
- Does the facility have its own disaster preparedness plan? (Ask for a copy.)
- How often do you do emergency drills with the staff?
- Where can family members call to get information about loved ones in the event of an emergency?
If you’re not satisfied with the answers (or lack of answers) you receive – especially from someplace your loved one is currently living — you may want to contact the state’s long-term care ombudsman program. Nursing homes and other care facilities that fail to plan for an emergency are likely negligent in other areas as well.
If you have a loved one who has already been harmed due to negligence or abuse suffered in a long-term care facility, it’s important to find out what you can do to seek justice and compensation. Seeking experienced legal guidance is a wise first step.