Emergency Planning: Behind The Scenes

At SelectCare, we understand that our home care services are a lifeline for our clients and believe it is our responsibility to provide consistent, reliable service, no matter what challenges are in store for the people of New York City.

In the wake of a very eventful week complete with papal visits and the meeting of the UN General Assembly (and the massive street closures attendant to both events) our staff wanted to share a peek behind the scenes at all the work that goes into providing such consistent service in a city that is anything but.

What is an emergency?

While the word “emergency” probably invokes images of Super Storm Sandy or a black out, the truth is that any event that threatens to impede service to a client activates that client’s emergency plan. As a result, our staff stays up to date on not just weather forecasts and the city’s social calendar, but seemingly benign events like street fairs and subway service changes.

An Ounce of Preparation in Your Home…

Emergency planning at SelectCare begins with your first free home health and safety assessment. During that assessment, our RN Nursing Supervisor begins the process by checking the client’s home for important emergency supplies like food, water, flashlights and batteries, as well as double checking that the client has a full supply of prescription medication and other medical supplies. If any of these critical items are missing during an evaluation, SelectCare’s caregivers can be instructed to purchase these supplies in the first days of service.  These supply checks happen every month during the client’s free RN supervisory visit, to ensure the client’s home is prepared throughout the year.

The initial assessment also allows SelectCare’s nursing staff to document important contact information for new clients, like emergency contacts for nearby friends and family members and the client’s regular team of medical professionals. Finally, our nurses provide client education through New York Emergency Management-approved training materials, empowering our clients to better “plan their plan” before an emergency event.

Finally, our agency uses a three-tiered classification system that identifies clients who A) cannot experience service disruption, B) can safely experience minor changes to a schedule or C) can go without service until an emergency situation has concluded.

By using this system, we can make informed decisions that respect both the safety of our clients and the safety of our caregivers.

…And in Our Office

SelectCare’s emergency preparation does not end at your home. Our office staff regularly practices a variety of emergency plans in conjunction with our community partners, including the Home Based Care Alliance, an organization that has direct access to New York Emergency Management’s citywide control center and provides minute-by-minute updates for all major emergencies. On top of our in-office training, we have also adopted technology throughout the agency that allows our staff to continue performing administrative tasks remotely, ensuring that someone from SelectCare is always available by phone, even if we can’t reach our office.

Our staff goes beyond state and city regulations when it comes to caregiver emergency training. Not only do we regularly drill our caregiver team on emergency protocols and the best methods of communicating during a major emergency, we also provide caregivers with the tools they need to protect their own families through preparation. That way, they can remain with their client during an emergency, confident that their own loved ones are well-prepared.

Putting It All Into Practice

So, with all that preparation said and done, here’s a step-by-step look at how we handled last week’s street closures:

1 – Our staff compared client addresses against the list of street closures we received from the city.

2 – Once affected clients were identified, we altered schedules where possible to ensure caregivers would not be travelling through closed streets and subway stations.

3 – Before street closures began, we made sure all SelectCare staff had their identification badges handy, both to ensure access to their client’s building and to ensure they had a variety of phone numbers they could use to reach us for assistance or guidance.

4 – SelectCare’s service coordinators also organized a backup schedule of caregivers. These caregivers were kept on-call throughout the week, to be called on for assistance if any regularly scheduled aides or nurses were unable to reach their client’s home.

5 – Once the events were underway, we continued to monitor additional street closures as they were added, using city-sponsored emergency broadcasts like the Advanced Warning System.

How Did We Do?

Upon review, we are proud to say that not one SelectCare client experienced service disruptions due to last week’s events, despite the fact that many of our clients live on streets that experienced closures. We will continue to monitor updates from the city and our staff as the UN General Assembly continues and expect another successful week providing home care in the greatest city on the planet.

As always, we must thank the incredible work and dedication of our administrators and caregiver staff, who continue to impress us with their ability to provide our clients with the compassionate, reliable service they deserve. To learn more about how we can provide the same consistent service to you or a loved one, call us today.