Pharmacist-based intervention to prepare residents of assisted-living facilities for emergencies.

OBJECTIVE: To assess views of disaster preparation and readiness of assisted-living residents after a comprehensive program developed and presented by pharmacists on the importance of preparing for an emergency, specifically regarding organizing of medical information.

METHODS: Four assisted-living facilities were identified throughout Rhode Island to participate in a 30-minute program conducted by two pharmacists who were involved in disaster preparedness on both a national and state level. A survey assessed the participants’ possession of a disaster kit, medical form, and personal plan, as well as their knowledge of their facilities’ possession of a kit, form, and plan. Participants were also surveyed on their attitudes regarding current preparedness and on the disasters (e.g, hurricanes, bioterrorism, avian influenza, floods, fire) about which they were most concerned before the program began. Student pharmacists and faculty assisted residents in the completion of the survey. At the conclusion of the program, all participants were asked to retake the survey to assess the impact of the program. RESULTS: 58 preprogram and 42 postprogram surveys were returned anonymously. A statistically significant change in preparedness was observed for hurricane, avian influenza, bioterrorism, and flood, and a statistically significant change in concern was seen for avian influenza and bioterrorism.

CONCLUSION: Elderly assisted-living residents are at increased risk of adverse effects in disasters; however, this growing population lacks baseline preparedness items such as a simple emergency preparedness kit. Educational programs by pharmacists can increase levels of preparedness for and defuse concerns about disasters in this population. Pharmacists also can educate elderly patients about preparedness for potential disasters specific to their location.