When people place their elderly loved ones in a nursing home, there are reasonable expectations regarding the kind of care they receive. This includes adequate facilities, living spaces and equipment to maintain comfort and health during their long-term care.
As climate disasters and severe natural storms grow more frequent, preparedness is becoming an issue.
Hurricanes and nursing home evacuations
According to The Gainesville Sun, serious hurricanes have deeply impacted nursing homes in Florida and Louisiana over the years.
Hollywood, Florida saw 12 nursing home patients die due to Hurricane Irma in 2017. These deaths resulted from heat-related causes. The lack of air conditioning combined with staff and corporate neglect prompted policymakers in Florida to enforce certain requirements. Most nursing homes must now provide backup generators to avoid power outages as well as maintain temperatures within a livable range.
Louisiana saw 14 nursing home patients die due to Hurricane Ida this year. An evacuation plan, approved by the state, involved 850 patients transferring to an empty warehouse for several days.
Deaths and abusive living situations
The owner of the nursing home change congratulated his staff for the care provided during this evacuation, citing the deaths of five clients out of 850 — claiming it could be worse. This does little to tackle the issue of those elderly living through the situation. With no kitchens, bathrooms or supplies, it is unlikely that the staff had the tools at hand to provide the minimum required care — let alone the care one might expect from a nursing home.
Emergency situations call for emergency expectations, but caring for the elderly during a crisis is a dire topic to mishandle. Elderly lives matter and there are advocates for the elderly who experience abuse at the hands of the unprepared.