Addressing Risks and Emergencies in Intermediate Care Facilities (ICFs)

When it comes to safety and emergencies in the healthcare industry, most people may assume that hospitals and emergency rooms are the only places that need to have plans in place to avoid risks. However, the healthcare industry is wide-ranging and carries a need to keep nurses, clients, medical professionals, and patients all safe in many different environments.

This is true for intermediate care facilities (ICF), or long-term care facilities that provide nursing and supportive care to residents. These services are provided on a non-continuous skilled nursing care basis, usually under the direction of a physician. These facilities are designed to help those who cannot help themselves because of declining health, be it physical or mental.

And while these facilities may differ from hospitals or nursing homes in some of the particulars, they do carry just as many risks and emergencies. In this case, it’s important to understand what these risks are and how to avoid them or respond to them through education and planning.

Outlining Risks and Emergency Planning

There are four main components that fall in line with the National Preparedness Cycle including emergency planning, policies and procedures, communication, and training and testing. These must all be developed and reviewed on a regular basis to make sure everyone is educated and a culture of awareness is present.

Annual reviews allow an ICF to identify any lapses in coverage and areas for improvement to an emergency plan. One way that a plan can be updated is to review the center’s intermediate care facility insurance coverage, which can provide the resources needed during a claim related to liabilities. From cyberattacks to negligence lawsuits, having this kind of coverage is step number one in reviewing risks.

Emergency Planning

An emergency plan has to be based on and include documented, facility-based risk assessment, and include different possible risk scenarios. These include missing patients, power outages, resident population, and continuity of operations after an emergency event.

An emergency plan has to address the specific unique needs of its clients and work with local, regional, state, and federal emergency preparedness officials to make sure that all bases are covered legally. ICF’s should review their plans to make sure they reflect the specific high-risk hazards for their area and the needs of their residents, including technology-dependent residents.

Policies

There should also be education around the provision of subsistence needs for staff and residents including the need for food, water, alternative sources of energy, pharmaceutical supplies, emergency lighting, waste disposal and more.

Safe evacuation and shelter in place procedures have to be included in policy outlines and care and treatment needs should be considered for evacuees, staff, and transportation. ICF’s should develop procedures for the care of multiple emergency admits and make sure that staff, space, and equipment are all factored in.

Communication

An ICF’s communication plan has to comply with local, state, and federal laws, and include name and contact information for important groups, including volunteers. A center will need to provide a primary and alternative option for communicating with center staff and all agencies within local and state outlines. The communication plan should also include timeframes for communication in emergency situations.

It’s important to review how a center plans on communicating and with whom, even if just to make sure that everyone is accounted for and everyone understands their role.

Training and Testing

Centers will need to make sure their staff members are all trained and aware of emergency preparedness situations as well as policies and procedures. Training must be well-documented and staff must be able to demonstrate knowledge of these procedures.

ICF’s have to conduct exercises to ensure that their emergency plans include staff drills and communication. An additional exercise will need to be conducted that is community-based and sets up certain scenarios where all compliance is accounted for. Testing will need to include an analysis and review of the ICF’s response and documentation of drills and emergency events.

About Highland Risk Services

At Highland Risk, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois and Phoenix, Arizona, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (877) 890-9301.