5 Ways to Prepare Your Long-Term Care Facility (or any healthcare organization) for the new CMS Emergency Preparedness Regulations

Disaster preparedness popularity comes in waves. Immediately after a disaster strikes nearby, people dust off their emergency plans and spend a few weeks talking about them. Then, preparedness falls by the wayside, as other priorities resurface. Take the time now to get prepared. CMS has given you a deadline of November 16!
Be Specific – Evaluate the risks for your region and your own facility. Operate under the assumption that when disaster strikes, no one will be able to make a decision or remember the plan. Make things as simple and easy to follow as possible. Create specific plans for each risk. Identify the threshold when you change from continuing operations to partial or even full evacuation, and identify the people who can make that decision. Write everything down and make sure the plans are easy to find.
Delegate – Do you have a Safety Officer? Or a committee who reviews the disaster plans? Have they done training? It’s time to delegate the responsibility of disaster preparedness to a key person on staff. Someone who has the time, knowledge, and training to make your facility as prepared as possible. Someone who can serve as a liaison with other agencies. Ideally, this person would lead the risk assessment, help run exercises and be able to train staff, on top of preparing and updating the disaster plan. (We can help this person or committee get started and move forward.)
Practice – There is no substitution for practice when it comes to a disaster. People thrive on routines and practicing evacuation routes or procedures to follow before an emergency, gives them more confidence to follow through during an emergency. Just like all the fire drills you practiced in elementary school, it became ingrained in your brain to evacuate when you hear a fire drill. You want your employees to feel the same way about their responsibilities during a disaster.
Collaborate with others – Meet with other health care facility staff to swap ideas and best practices. Set up a mutual aid plan with at least one other similar facility, in case either of you needs to evacuate. Join your regional healthcare coalition and meet your municipal emergency manager. We can introduce you.
Evaluate – After you make a plan and exercise it, take the time to make it better. Chances are you need someone on the outside to help you see flaws. Just like an editor can help make a book better, a professional disaster preparedness consultant can make your disaster plan better. Crisis Response & Prevention can help with this.
Remember, you don’t have a choice in your compliance. Get started now and be better prepared for your patients and your staff.

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