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Managing Home Care When Wildfire Strikes

Marjorie has lived on Foresthill Lane since 1962, in a modest home where she raised her family and enjoyed over 40 years of marriage. Last week, a wildfire sparked in the canyons below Marjorie’s home, sending plumes of smoke high into the mountain air. Knowing she was home alone, Marjorie’s daughter immediately called the home care agency who normally stopped by to help with shopping and housekeeping a few times each week when she found out about the fire.

The home care agency quickly pulled up the records of Marjorie’s normal caregiver in their home care software, and called to see if the caregiver was available for an emergency overnight shift to help in case of evacuation. After agreeing to the shift, a new schedule with evacuation preparation steps was arranged in the home care system, and Marjorie had help on the way. During the summer months, this scenario can be a reality for thousands of seniors living in areas commonly referred to as wildland-urban interface. However, with proper preparation, home care agencies using comprehensive home care software and home care systems can play an integral role in helping their clients when wildfire strikes.

1. Prepare caregivers with tasks in your home care software or home care system:
A robust home care software can be used to list required tasks, such as gathering important medications and assistive devices, packing glasses, keeping clients calm and gathering any required pet supplies in case of evacuation. Recorded notes from caregivers in the field, delivered via your home care system, can keep administrators and family members updated on what’s going on at the house during a local emergency.

2. Stay calm:
The idea of a wildfire in the area can be very unsettling for seniors, especially those who are easily agitated. Thus, caregivers keeping an air of confidence and serenity will help keep seniors on an even keel. Encourage caregivers to keep seniors on their schedules as best as possible and keep panic at bay by ensuring seniors that the news is being monitored and that they are as prepared as possible in case of an evacuation.

3. Stress the importance of safety:
Seniors, like Marjorie, who have lived in their homes for decades may be hesitant to leave. However, caregivers can help reduce stress of leaving by letting seniors know that their life is the most important asset and that firefighters will do their best to save the home. A note in your homecare software or homecare system can also let caregivers know ahead of time if a client has expressed previous disinterest in evacuating. Reminding seniors that getting out of an area when asked to do so is best not only for their safety, but that of emergency responders, may also prove helpful.

4. Leave in plenty of time:
When an evacuation order does come, seniors and their caregivers should leave as soon as possible and have a plan as to whether they will go to an evacuation center, or a local friend or relative’s home. Homecare software can be used to track emergency contacts and help find a safe place for seniors to shelter during an evacuation.

While there are an endless number of variables that will undoubtedly come into play when a wildfire strikes your service area, having a plan in place, and caregivers armed with knowledge as well as the assistance of a robust home care software or home care system, you will be well on the road to keeping your clients safe during an emergency.

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Derek Jones

Derek enjoys spending time with family running road races, has completed 6-half marathons, mountain biking, and anything to do with baseball or the outdoors.

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