Online Program

Identified Gaps in Home Health Agency Disaster Preparedness Protocols

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Tamar Wyte-Lake, DPT, MPH, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC), Veterans Health Administration, Sepulveda, CA
Maria Claver, PhD, MSW, CPG, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC), Veterans Health Administration, Sepulveda, CA
Aram Dobalian, PhD, MPH, JD, Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC), Veterans Health Administration, North Hills, CA

Individuals receiving in-home care are vulnerable during disasters due to chronic disease, cognitive impairment, functional limitations, physical disabilities, and dependence on life-saving equipment. Increasing disaster preparedness may decrease adverse health outcomes and lessen the burden on emergency responders. Home care providers are positioned to assess and improve patient disaster preparedness as they have regular contact with patients and caregivers and knowledge of patient home environments, medical needs, resources, and limitations.


(1)    Thematic review of 32 peer-reviewed articles that discussed: (a) home health organization policies and procedures, (b) lessons learned in the field, and (c) expert recommendations

(2)    31 semi-structured interviews with practitioners and leadership at 6 Veterans Health Administration Home-Based Primary Care (HBPC) programs.


Disaster preparedness tools have been developed by the National Association for Home Care and Hospice and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Gaps emerged between information gathered in the review and from interviews with HBPC programs: (1) It is not always clear who is responsible for monitoring medical equipment; (2) Programs need a stronger means of identifying caregiver support; and (3) HBPC’s unique structure allows for practitioners from various disciplines to lead disaster preparedness activities.


Differences exist in evaluation, classification, education, and triage between organizations. Gaps exist between recommended tools and policies and those that have been adopted in the field. Programs responsible for preparedness in home healthcare would benefit from better dissemination and evaluation of current evidence-based tools. Tools should allow professionals from different disciplines to optimize leadership regarding preparedness.

Learning Areas:

Administration, management, leadership
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning

Learning Objectives:
Identify major gaps in home health agency disaster preparedness protocols. Describe how different service groups can work at the top of their expertise to contribute to the disaster preparedness activities of home health agencies.

Keyword(s): Aging, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal Investigator of multiple funded projects focusing on home-based primary care and post-deployment integrated care. Among my scientific interests has been the evaluation and implementation of disaster preparedness tools and resources for the field of home health care.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.