Is Whispering Willows Nursing Home Prepared for a Disaster?

When running a nursing home, there should be no possibility for the administration to be ineffective. Like any organization, a nursing home should have a Continuity of Operations Plan, which employees must follow to ensure proper operating of the facility and safety of its residents in case of emergency. Such a plan is made according to the organization’s specific characteristics and working structure. Its facilities, financials, personnel, and services must be taken into account in order not to overlook each crucial detail of the plan. This paper aims to evaluate a case of a nursing home trying to prepare for an emergency scenario, reflect on the potential issues and risks that might arise, and consider possible solutions.

The given case implies a situation when the Whispering Willows nursing’s home administrator Bob is concerned about the facility’s proper operation. He is convinced that an emergency’s real-life experience is the best way to ensure an effective response. Thus, Bob is calling a meeting with administrators of the Whispering Willows to ask for their participation in acting out the All Hazards Continuity of Operations Plan. Its purpose is to establish the course of action in case of an organization’s emergency, including fast relocation of the staff and the residents, as well as the standard operating of critical units.

Considering such a case, one should pay attention to the specific characteristics of this particular nursing home. It is a public organization receiving federal funds, with the administrators in charge of nursing and rehabilitation services. Under their supervision, or on the same organizational level are the director of medical services and heads of non-medical services, including kitchen, housekeeping, social and recreational departments. Finally, there are front-line workers, including doctors, therapists, nurses, nursing assistants, social workers, housekeepers, and maintenance men. Bob is the director of medical services who supervises the work of the rest of the administering team. Referring to all these key-roles in the organization’s structure is crucial for a general understanding of the facility’s standard operating.

Bob suggested testing the All Hazards Plan, which focuses on preparing for any emergency, regardless of the cause. However, even though there are many possible emergency cases, it all comes to the three major outcomes that the staff will have to face (Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, 2010). First, when it is impossible to leave the facility because of any hazard or disaster; second, when personnel and residents need to evacuate from the facility due to the building being unsafe. Last, there might be an inability to deliver crucial resources, such as food, water, or medicine, to the facility. The efficient All Hazards Plan must provide clear instructions on how to act in any of these scenarios.

In my opinion, the strategy proposed by Bob is the best way to prepare for an emergency. He positioned himself as a smart leader who cares about his colleagues and the residents of the workplace. If I were to take on a role in such a situation, I would fulfill myself in an administrator’s chief position who brings people together to make the plan as efficient as possible. Many organizations neglect acting out the possible emergency scenario, which actually helps correct minor or major mistakes in the heat of the moment. Moreover, the already existing plan previously prepared by the Human Resources Development (HRD) must be revised carefully by each administrative unit’s heads. Critical evaluation of the plan by personnel is often underestimated, which leads to misunderstandings, frustration, and even conflicts at the time of an actual emergency (Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, 2010). To avoid that from happening, employees must read all the instructions carefully and make adjustments if necessary.

An employee’s major mistake would be to panic and get into an agitated state, as the residents of the nursery homes, in general, are very vulnerable people; any emergency is immense stress for them. Thus, the prior employees’ function is to provide support and to comfort frightened seniors. Heads of departments should give clear, reasonable instructions to their subordinates, who, in turn, must do everything fast and without giving out fear or nervousness (Lane & McGrady, 2018). Such behavior is most appropriate and shows professionalism and teamwork in action.

The organization’s weakness that would prevent them from handling the crisis may be a superficial approach to the situation’s seriousness. Often, employees think that nothing will actually happen, and the emergency plan is a simple formality. Such an approach is inappropriate for medical personnel looking after either the disabled or those who cannot take care of themselves due to their advanced age. In case of such an environment among employees, it is essential to establish each employee’s exact role (Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, 2010). It is helpful to conduct a meeting where the administrator in charge would explain each position’s and duty’s importance and engage staff into a collective discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of each proposed strategy. This would make them more engaged in the process and even push them to develop their own solutions.

The crucial duties and responsibilities must be carefully spread among employees. They include management of the entire emergency, which is conducted by the chief administrator. The director of non-medical services must provide internal and external communications. Looking after the residents, providing medical and psychological custody should be assigned to doctors, nurses, and their assistants. Housekeepers and maintenance employees must overlook the facility’s safe functioning, as well as provide necessary resources for the residents’ comfort. These include power, water supply, food services, air-conditioning or heating system, depending on the season (Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, 2010). Thus, when an emergency is happening, everyone knows what to do, and there will be no place for panic or irrational decisions.

An emergency course of action is considered successful only when there are established ways of evaluating its effectiveness. The core measure of the plan’s effectiveness is how fast the facility gets back to regular operation, especially in case of a large-scale emergency (Hyer et al., 2007). When the disturbing events are over, the organization has to restore its general routines and expenses as fast as possible for the damage to be less significant. For that purpose, acting out All Hazards Plan must be most precise to decrease the chance of long-term recovery from the adverse circumstances.

To sum up, the Whispering Willows nursing home is going to face challenges during emergency preparations. It might happen due to the staff’s negligence, resulting in disorganized actions, panic mode, and the facility’s unsustainable operation. All of this causes the residents’ distress and long rehabilitation of the nursing home’s normal working conditions. It can be avoided by carrying out staff meetings with collective discussions, revising the prepared All Hazards Plan by each employee, clear division of responsibilities, and further testing the plan for much-needed practice. Then, Whispering Willows will be fully prepared for any emergency situation that might appear on their way.

References

Hyer, K., Polivka-West, L. & Brown, L. M. (2007). Nursing homes and assisted living facilities: Planning and decision making for sheltering in place or evacuation. Generations: Journal of American Society of Aging, 31(4),29-33(5).

Lane, S. J., & McGrady, E. (2018). Measures of emergency preparedness contributing to nursing home resilience. Journal of Gerontological Social Work, 61(7), 751-774. Web.

Vermont Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living. (2010). Emergency preparedness planning for nursing homes and residential care settings in Vermont. Web.