About Home Care and Emergency Preparedness

Unlike other areas of health care, the expertise of home care agencies and staff is rooted in the delivery of services to patients in their home environment, where possible risks to the patient’s safety might otherwise be invisible to emergency management entities concentrating on outside environmental factors.

A nurse at HCR Home Care joins the National Guard in coordinating access to supplies during Hurricane Irene in 2011.

With washed-out roads or bridges and other infrastructure limitations — like lock-down procedures, quarantines or curfews — a home care agency and its direct-care personnel may be the patient’s sole point of access to health services and other basic necessities in the midst or aftermath of a natural disaster.

The role of home care in emergency situations is not restricted to response efforts. Just as home care providers offer preventive health services to help keep patients out of the hospital or nursing home, they also offer preventive emergency preparedness services.

Home care agencies and their clinicians are trained to ensure that patients have emergency kits, operable smoke detectors, as well as a “go-bag” of medications, identification cards and other important items that can be quickly gathered and brought with the patient in the event of an evacuation, especially when a storm or other emergency situation is known to be imminent. Such is the case for hurricane preparedness in coastal and flood-prone areas as well as for winter weather disasters in northern and western New York.

Beyond natural disasters, home care providers, under state and federal regulations, must develop an “all-hazards” approach to preparedness that can anticipate any number of impacts on patients, staff and operations, from an active-shooter event to potential bio-terrorism or surge capacity needs resulting from a mass-trauma situation or pandemic, where hospitals or other settings may be needing to discharge to home care.

About This Website

Homecareprepare.org is a resource for home care providers on emergency preparedness regulations, upcoming drills, planning documents and best-practices to support home care’s efforts serving vulnerable patients at home during an emergency. It is sponsored by the Home Care Association of New York State, a provider association that represents home care and hospice agencies throughout New York.

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