We in the Tampa Bay area felt relief as Tropical Storm Isaac shifted paths away from us, but the latest Florida hurricane preparations reminded us again of our vulnerability and particular concerns as a senior home care provider in this state. We thought it was a good time to share some additional education on natural disasters, Florida home health agency disaster plans, and key items in preparing for hurricanes and other natural disasters for seniors.
First, it is important to note that the Florida Agency for Healthcare Administration requires all regulated medical and senior care providers to document emergency plans. For example, both Florida home health agencies and nursing homes must register their emergency plans with the state for approval each year. The plans must include certain elements such as managing client care and communications about such plans to clients/families.
If you do not work with a licensed provider, then (like with many aspects of care) this element is left up to you. You would need to work with your provider to find out what he/she is going to be able to do during a storm and make alternative arrangements as need be. If you live in another state, check with your state agency to find out what they require of different types of providers. Senior home care regulations are very different state to state, with some states only regulating skilled medical providers.
If you’re a senior caregiver, how can you help your loved one prepare for natural disasters like hurricanes?
- Ensure you have gone through an emergency preparations checklist. EasyLiving offers one you can download for free at the bottom of this post. You can find various checklists from your state and county to cover other types of natural disasters for your area.
- Get an emergency supply of medications. In 2006, the Legislature passed the Emergency Prescription Refill bill. This law requires all insurers to suspend refill timing restrictions when a patient seeks a refill in a county that is currently under a hurricane warning, declared to be under a state of emergency, or has activated its Emergency Operations Center and emergency management plan. This law also allows patients outside of these areas to get an emergency 72-hour refill if the pharmacist is unable to readily obtain refill authorization from the doctor.
- Break down emergency planning into two parts: pre-planning for the season (broad planning such as buying emergency supplies and discussing options for evacuation and after-care) and storm-specific planning. Different options may be appropriate depending on the predicted storm as well as your loved one’s current circumstances. We also find that many individuals feel differently about preparations once the reality of the storm is near.
- Be overly cautious in planning and remember the specific vulnerabilities of your aging or disabled loved ones which can make the aftermath of a storm particularly uncomfortable and even life threatening (you might want to check out these key questions from Aging Wisely). Though hurricanes involve the “cone of uncertainty”, we are fortunate to have time to prepare for predicted storms and activate arrangements. Sometimes this means putting plans in to action which are overly cautious for what happens, but it is always better to err on the side of caution over convenience.
EasyLiving feels strongly about our role as a Florida home health agency in educating seniors and family caregivers on important issues like disaster preparedness. We offer timely topics like this on our blog and in our monthly Caregiver Tips newsletter. Did you know you can get both delivered right to your email inbox? Just type in your email address and we’ll keep you updated. We hope you find the hurricane preparation checklist useful. You can find this and all of our resources at our Senior Resource Center.
Call us at 727-448-0900 for immediate assistance and answers to all your Florida senior home care questions.