Risk Reporter for Senior Living Communities

Winter 2015 Vol. 15, Issue 4

q|a - A Persepective

Every senior living center wants to do all it can to protect residents and staff members in the event of a disaster. Recognizing that many organizations struggle with disaster preparation, the St. Louis Area Chapter of the American Red Cross created Ready Rating™. The program includes an assessment tool backed by a variety of disaster planning resources. Risk Reporter recently discussed the program with Tom Heneghan, senior product manager of business continuity programs for the American Red Cross. To learn more about Ready Rating, visit http://www.readyrating.org.

Risk Reporter: Tell us about the program and how it works.

Tom Heneghan: Disaster preparedness is like healthy eating. You know you should do it, but you don’t always know where to start, and it’s hard to follow through. Ready Rating™ delivers the tools to do both. The program’s focus is assessment. It provides a snapshot of your present state and includes tools to evaluate and address problem areas. And it’s not a one-time thing. To continue being a Ready Rating member, you have to improve your score by at least one point (out of a total of 123) each year.

Risk Reporter: Walk us through the steps.

Heneghan: First, create a team and conduct an assessment. Include people from core areas, such as maintenance, kitchen, nursing and operations. Empower these people to get insights from key stakeholders so you have an accurate understanding of where you are in the preparedness process.

The assessment goes pretty quickly. There are 79 questions, but many of them have a simple “yes” or “no” answer. The process usually takes an hour or two. Next, assess your vulnerability. What weak points did you discover? What are you most worried about?

Follow with plan development. Focus on the areas either most likely to be a problem or, even if rare, that pose the highest risk. There often are simple things that take little time or money that really make a difference. Then train your staff members. Everyone — from your building and grounds staff to the medical team and administrators — needs to understand their role in the event of an emergency.

The final step: Ask how you can help your larger community. Conduct a public presentation on family safety plans or a CPR class, for example.

Risk Reporter: Is Ready Rating personalized to an industry or location?

Heneghan: It’s more general, but the assessment process lets you weigh hazards based on your geographic location and elements specific to your organization. For instance, your plan has to consider things like the physical and cognitive abilities of your residents, the impact of nighttime staffing levels and if you have medical staff. The resource tools on the Red Cross site help tailor your plan. One particularly good one is the Emergency Response Planning Tool.

Risk Reporter: Your program has had impressive results. Would you talk about that?

Heneghan: The average improvement is 14 percent in the first year and 50 percent in the second. The most common actions include educating staff members and updating existing plans. Don’t worry if you start with a low score — now you know how to improve.


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Editor: Amy M. Kimmes akimmes@churchmutual.com

Risk Control Advisor: Edward A. Steele, CSP, ARM esteele@churchmutual.com

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