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Hospice: How to Make a Preparedness Plan

September is National Preparedness Month and this year’s theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.” This month is designed to recognize and promote family and community disaster and emergency planning. In many areas of the state and indeed the country, September can be a very volatile weather month. If your loved one relies on electricity for their survival in hospice, the thought of the power cutting out and your parent or spouse being without oxygen, for example, can evoke feelings of panic in caregivers. To alleviate the stress of the unknown, it’s wise to create a preparedness plan in San Mateo and elsewhere.

In a disaster, you likely won’t have time to think, let alone come up with a plan, which is why it’s best to create one during calm times. Once created, you’ll want to post the plan in a central spot where everyone in your family can see it. It will also inform any visitors who may stay with your loved one all about the disaster plan. Here’s how to get started on your preparedness plan.

General Plans

Step 1: Discuss Four Key Questions with Family, Friends, and Caregivers

To build the bones of your emergency plan, ask these critical questions to guide you, suggests

  1. How will we receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  2. What is our shelter plan?
  3. What is our evacuation route?
  4. What is our family/household communication strategy?

Step 2:  Consider Your Household’s Specific Needs

Tailor your plans and supplies to your specific requirements of daily living as well as your responsibilities. Discuss those needs and responsibilities with people in your network so you can assist each other with communication, care for the hospice patient, your work, pets, and your kids. You’ll also want to figure out how all medical equipment works and what contingencies come into play should the power go out. Keep these factors in mind when coming up with your plan:

  • Ages of members in your household
  • Responsibilities for assisting others, mainly the person in hospice.
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs, including prescriptions and equipment
  • Disabilities
  • Access and functional needs, including devices and equipment
  • Needs of service animals

Once you know the answers to your questions and have factored in the above, put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and create your plan. Here is a basic template to start with from the Red Cross. Add pages as necessary to address more specific needs of your loved one.

Step 3: Practice the Plan

Go through the plan as part of a practice drill to ensure you and the rest of the household and caregivers know exactly what to do in the event of an emergency without panicking.

Targeted Plans: Hospice and Disabled

Now, let’s drill down further into emergency preparedness plans specifically designed for your loved one in hospice. This is especially helpful if they are on oxygen or require machines and equipment to survive and thrive.

1. Know Where the Circuit Breakers Are

If the power goes out, it could be that a circuit breaker has been tripped. Know where the panel is and how to check them.

2. Call Utility Companies

If your loved one is on oxygen or uses other types of medical equipment that rely on electricity, your utility company may have a program that says they won’t terminate your service for non-payment and during an outage. Plus, they will work hard to get your utilities turned back on more rapidly than standard customers. You may need a statement from your loved one’s hospice physician to qualify for the program. Post the emergency number for your power and gas company in a central location.

3. Have Extra Oxygen on Hand

Ask the oxygen supplier to send out e-tanks that can be used in a time of disaster. Store them in a safe location and make sure you know how to turn them on and off.

4. Have a Cooler Ready

It’s a good idea to have a cooler with ice packs handy for storing foods and medications that must be kept cold. You should always have at least a 10-day supply of medications available.

5. Keep Flashlights and Batteries Available

Place a flashlight with extra batteries in every room of the home. Consider using plug-in flashlights that you can charge by  plugging them into a wall outlet.

6. Create a Checklist

In addition to your own specific hospice-related emergency plan, print out this handy checklist to go over when there is a power outage.

Recognize National Preparedness Month and this year’s theme: “Prepared, Not Scared” by creating your own emergency plan. This will give you peace of mind and a strong plan so you’ll know just what to do.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

We offer a comprehensive, welcoming and compassionate hospice program here at Pathways. Contact us to learn more about what we offer and how we can help.