Online Program

Improving Social Resilinecy Through a Whole Community Approach

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Elizabeth Cohn, PhD, RN, College of Nursing and Public Health, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY
Meghan McPherson, MPP, CEM, Center for Health Innovation, Adelphi University, Garden City, NY
Background: Resiliency has two essential infrastructure components, physical and social. After an event, officials fortify their physical components, but social resiliency is often not addressed. The Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation (CHI) focused on this concept, because communities that demonstrate social resilience can begin recovery on an enhanced timetable, even before services and buildings are restored.


(1) To form a community-academic partnership focused on social resiliency in targeted communities at-risk for disasters.

(2) To identify a set of key processes for increasing community-based social resiliency using a whole community approach. 

Methods: Using a whole community approach to improving resiliency in a post-Sandy environment, CHI offered two small grants to communities with different needs, populations, and response abilities. The grants provided monetary support for release time for municipal employees or volunteers to concentrate their efforts on this project, which include a facilitated an initial self-assessment, coordination of subject matter expert trainings, Table Top Exercises, and community outreach publicizing coordination of services. 

Results: The two jurisdictions were awarded grants had different populations, socioeconomic status, prior damage, and hazards.  We found that to improve social resilience, the towns benefited from a guided assessment that addressed (among many) issues of the undocumented, the aging, and those of all levels of socioeconomic status in a way that resiliency can be increased in each group with different approaches. 

Conclusions:  Based on all-hazard principles, this study provides a reproducible, flexible, scalable and sustainable model for an academic-community partnership to improve social resiliency in communities at-risk.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Program planning
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe Adelphi University’s Center for Health Innovation community resiliency process tested in a 2014-2015 grant program. Explain lessons learned and results from Adelphi approach: Challenges to social resilience include entrenched turf issues, lack of protocols at the jurisdictional level, community partners with overlapping missions, and lack of jurisdictional/community partner co-training. Discuss the flexible, scalable, and replicable nature of the approach to advance community and social resiliency. Develop a social resilience plan for their own community.

Keyword(s): Emergency Preparedness, Community-Based Partnership & Collaboration

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have working in community preparedness and social resiliency for over a decade in the public, private, and academic sectors in various roles. I am also a professor of emergency management at Adelphi University and have worked in the responses to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Irene, and Sandy. All of my work has been focuses on community preparedness planning and recovery.
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.