Do You Know Everyone’s Email Address?

First hurricane Katrina, and now the recent wildfires in Southern California have pushed disaster preparedness back to the forefront of issues facing the assisted living and residential care industry. In speaking with providers and representatives from Community Care Licensing (CCL), one of the lessons learned during the wildfire evacuations was the importance of communication.

Myron Taylor, CCL’s Southern California Regional Manager, told us he and his staff found that Southern California providers as whole responded quickly and efficiently during the evacuations in October, but that there were a few cases of families having difficulty getting updated information from facilities where their loved ones were being cared for, and had to potentially evacuate from. While providers made attempts to call families and keep them apprised of the condition of the facility and their residents, there are many instances in which responsible parties might be unreachable by phone.

During a session at the recent California Assisted Living Association conference, Joel Goldman of Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy, LLP made a simple but effective suggestion that can help to fill the communication gap during not only emergencies, but many other situations that commonly arise. Joel asked how many people in the audience had the responsible party’s email address for each resident in their building. Only a few participants in the large audience raised their hand. This is one item on the disaster planning checklist that all providers should be able to cross off the list.

By collecting email addresses, you can quickly plug them into your address book and create a contact group or distribution list that will automatically send an email to all of the responsible parties for your residents. Imagine being able to write a quick and simple email notifying families of the status of your facility during an emergency, clicking on “send”, and know that all of your families have been updated. Email certainly doesn’t replace having cell phone numbers for your residents’ families and the reassurance that can come from speaking directly to the family, but it provides yet another stop gap to close the communication loop.

So, next time you are admitting a new resident, or speaking to the family of one of your residents, take a second to ask for their personal email address. Let them know that you will use it to keep them updated should an emergency situation ever arise. They will be impressed to see that you are using technology effectively, and reassured knowing that you are planning for the disaster that all of us hope will never come.

2 Responses to “Do You Know Everyone’s Email Address?”

  1. Having email address of the responsible person of our resident is a good idea. What about FAX number too?

    Where can we get the email address of CCLD personnel that we deal with or for our county, they don’t have it in the website, they only have their location address and telephone number, not sure if they show their FAX number?

    Another suggestion is to have CCLD update the LIC 801 IDENTIFICATION AND EMERGENCY INFORMATION to include email address and FAX number in it.

  2. Having the fax number is a great idea as well.

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