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Best Emergency Communication Practices for Senior Living Facilities

4 minute read - Posted by Daniel Wagstaff on Dec 13, 2018 6:00:00 AM

The demand for emergency communication in the healthcare industry has always been high, yet sometimes we tend to overlook such aspects until it becomes too obvious not too. Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods or fires have brought the situation of the healthcare system to the public’s attention, and have opened our eyes in regards to the need for emergency communication. When it comes to senior living facilities, the situation is even more pressing, as most of them don’t have a fully-functioning emergency communication system, nor strategies in place in case they need them.

Preparing for an emergency situation requires an extensive plan and comprehensive means of implementing it, such as the use of a mass notification system and having templates in place that deal with a wide array of emergency situations.

The Importance of Emergency Communication for Senior Living Facilities

It is estimated that by 2050, over a fifth of the population of the United States will be 65 years or older, which is why the healthcare industry needs to be prepared for creating and managing senior living facilities that will cater to the requirements of a rapidly aging population.

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In the case of senior living facilities, the need for an emergency communication strategy is of utmost importance as the residents of these centers are not always easily transportable, and most of them can’t look out for themselves in the case of an emergency, which is why a communication system between employees and with the families of the residents can make a significant difference if or when an emergency situation arises. Although all healthcare facilities and institutions need to have a fully-functioning emergency communication solution in place, senior living facilities need to make sure that they have covered all ground in terms of drafting and implementing a solution, based on the particular needs of their residents, rather than based on generic industry guidelines and regulations.

Best Practices for Emergency Communication

If you manage a facility for senior living and are interested in bettering your emergency communication solutions or you need to implement a new system, there are a few best practices you need to consider. Following these best practices will assure that in the case of an emergency, all your employees will be equipped to handle the situation, and all parties involved, such as the families of your residents, will be not only notified in time but also kept in the loop about the development of the situation and about its resolution.

Identification of Possible Emergencies

Knowing what kind of emergencies and natural disasters could impact your center and your community, either directly or indirectly, will make a great difference when preparing your emergency communication plan. It can help you draft and implement templates which to use for a more operational communication, and also allow you to think of possible approaches with a clear mind, rather than in the middle of a crisis.

Drafting a Plan

Drafting a plan for an emergency communication solution means you will need to think of all possible scenarios to include, as per the best practice above, but also that you will need to have solutions in place for those scenarios, and a clear plan regarding how you will be implementing then. Your plan also needs to include how you will handle an interruption of communication services. An emergency communication plan for senior living facilities, and all healthcare facilities, needs to be in compliance with both state and federal laws and regulations.

For a higher success rate of your plan it is mandatory that you test it and analyze your results, but also that you provide all you employees with the proper training needed so that they are aware of how your emergency communication solutions works.

Use a Multi-Channel Platform

If most of the senior living facilities in the US have a communication plan in place for residents, through which to inform them in the case of an emergency, and some also for family members, very few of them have an emergency communication solution in place for employees, with which to facilitate a better cooperation of all staff, regardless if they are a member of an emergency team or not. Using a multi-channel emergency communication platform and implementing strategies not only for residents and their families, but also for employees can be a life-saver in the case of an emergency. Having a multi-channel broadcasting method is mandatory as you will never know where your employees will be when an emergency situation will arise, which is why you need to inform them and allow them to communicate with each other through a wide range of available platforms, such as text messaging, email, or any internal chat you might be using for your staff.

Drafting the Right Messages

Emergency messages needs to be clear, simple, and to the point. There is no need for too much information, but you always need to make sure that the needed information is included. Draft the messages you will broadcast based on the targeted audience, and don’t include humor or make the language too informal, nor too formal, depending on whether you are drafting them for residents, family members, or employees.

Always Update Your Plan and Strategies

An emergency communication plan needs to always be tailored in accordance to the needs of your residents, those of your employees, and with whatever possible emergency might arise, but also with rules and industry regulations. Make sure to always train your employees regarding new changes. Having regular training session with the residents of your senior living facility and informing them on how your emergency communication works will help them be prepared if or when a situation arises that will require the broadcast of en emergency message, thus lowering the risk of panic amongst your residents.

For your emergency communication plans and strategies to be properly implemented and have them run smoothly in the case of all possible emergency, you will need to use a modern mass notification system that will not only allow you to follow the above best practices with ease but will also provide you with real-time data for gathering and analyzing, so that you will always have metrics upon which to base further updates, developments, or the drafting of new emergency communication plans. A senior living facility relies on a comprehensive emergency communication plan, your residents and our employees rely on your professionalism when it comes to making sure that everything has been carefully considered. Although a delicate matter, it can be properly handled with the help of a tailored emergency communication solution, therefore improving your response but also the overall functioning of your operations, and the wellbeing of both residents and employees.

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