Ohio nursing homes have emergency plans, but are they complete?

Researchers at Miami University Scripps Gerontology Center say nearly all of Ohio's nursing homes have plans in place to respond to emergencies, but not enough facilities are coordinating efforts with hospitals, emergency responders and public health officials.

Working with the Ohio Department of Aging, Health and Emergency Management to examine preparedness and planning in Ohio nursing homes, Scripps researchers surveyed all 962 facilities in the state. Of the 890 facility administrators who responded, all reported having plans for natural disasters, mechanical failures and evacuations.

"One hundred percent of the responding nursing homes have an emergency plan," said Ian (Matt) Nelson, Scripps research scholar. "But almost 50 percent of the facilities who responded indicate they do not work with their local partners to coordinate their plans."

Researchers recommend more nursing home facilities engage with local and regional partners to develop emergency plans and to participate in emergency preparation activities such as communitywide drills.

Risk factors for emergency situations (e.g. proximity to flood plains and active railroad tracks and areas prone to natural disasters, etc.) were considered when assessing preparedness.

The research was funded by a grant from the Ohio General Assembly through the Ohio Long-Term Care Research Project and by the Ohio Department of Aging. The full report is available online.