Natural Disaster Plan for Nursing Home Residents

By on October 24, 2017
Natural Disaster Plan for Nursing Home Residents

By Susan Hodges –

Recent hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have devastated thousands and taken the lives of hundreds of people across multiple countries. Among those affected by these horrific storms are nursing home residents. During natural disasters, it is vital for communities to remember the elderly who reside in nursing homes. We must all be advocates for the elderly especially in times of chaos.

Time before Threat

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Once severe weather threat warnings have been issued, nursing home residents who can be evacuated safely should leave with appropriate family members, responsible parties or guardians. Advocates, who receive special instructions from nursing home staff, can assist by making calls to involved parties to further explain the facility’s evacuation process. 

The residents who require extensive medical care and attention should be transferred to a medical facility that is considered a safe zone. Advocates can help the transition process by talking to the residents, explaining what is to come and ensuring them the move is for their wellbeing and safety.

For those who are unable to leave with a guardian, a nursing home facility should have a contract with another institution agreeing to house residents when an imminent threat arises. During this time, nursing home staff should remain with guests to provide medical care and comfort.

Time during Threat

When a nursing home has found shelter and there is no longer a threat to the resident’s safety and wellbeing, there are various things an advocate can do to continue to help.

Life seems to move at a million miles a minute during natural disasters, which can lead to uncertainty, panic and even chaos. Those who are able should clear pathways in the facility for residents and staff, as well as help with laundry and cleaning to keep conditions sanitary. To keep residents entertained and calm, advocates can participate in group activities, pass out water and snacks, provide answers to resident’s questions and acknowledge their concerns.

If phone lines are still up and running, this is also the time to make calls to appropriate family members or guardians providing updates on the resident’s condition.

Time after Threat

Once the disaster has run its course, residents should be accurately readjusted to their normal living environment as quickly and smoothly as possible to prevent additional stress. During this time, calls should be made informing the various parties of the resident’s current condition and location.

While natural disasters take a toll on all age groups, the elderly are not as able to care for themselves and rely heavily on assistance from others. Local communities should think of, and advocate for, senior citizens to ensure they are not forgotten and left without proper care during difficult times.

Advocates and volunteers should revisit the residents after a natural disaster has taken place if possible. This act of kindness reassures residents that people do care about them in their time of need and will continue to do so on a daily basis.


Susan Hodges, the author of A Breach of Trust, is an advocate for senior citizens navigating the world of geriatric care and assisted living. As a retired licensed nursing facility administrator (LNFA) and long term care administrator (LTC), Hodges previously maintained nursing homes in Stamford and Fort Worth, TX where she helped the facilities stay abreast of their daily challenges. Hodges currently serves as president of Hodges Consulting and resides in Fort Worth, TX where she works tirelessly to protect the rights of nursing home residents.


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Natural Disaster Plan for Nursing Home Residents