Long-term care and disaster preparedness: A study of organizational types and levels of preparedness for a disaster or emergency


  • Saher Selod, MA
  • Janice Heineman, PhD
  • Catherine O’Brien, MPH, MA
  • Scott P. King, PhD




long-term care, disaster preparedness, emergency preparedness, older adults, disaster plan


Objectives: Although the consequences of Hurricane Katrina motivated considerable research into long-term care (LTC) facility preparedness, many questions still remain. This study examines the characteristics of LTC facility in relation to the level of preparedness to discern whether there are patterns that can inform future planning efforts. The data from PREPARE, a federally funded disaster preparedness program for LTC staff, are used in the analysis.
Methods: More than 400 PREPARE participants completed both baseline and impact surveys as well as a demographic survey, allowing for an analysis of the characteristics and levels of disaster preparedness among participating LTC facilities. Crosstabs were run for the baseline and impact surveys against the demographic survey that the participants completed. Cluster analysis was performed to fit organizations into distinct groups based on their baseline responses to key preparedness domains.
Results: The results of the crosstabs reveal the specific areas where LTC facilities have a more comprehensive disaster plan. For example, skilled nursing facilities appear to be more prepared than continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs); rural facilities seem to be more prepared than urban facilities; and facilities that are part of a chain did not emerge as being better equipped than independent facilities. Cluster analysis found three groups of organizations: “Resourceful but Hesitant,” “Unprepared,” and “Model Preparedness.”
Conclusions: These findings have important implications for public health efforts surrounding disaster preparedness in LTC. The findings suggest that CCRCs deserve special attention in preparedness planning and that consideration in disaster planning is required in both rural and urban areas.

Author Biographies

Saher Selod, MA

Senior Research Associate, Mather LifeWays, Evanston, Illinois.

Janice Heineman, PhD

Senior Research Associate, Institute for the Future of Aging Services, AAHSA, Washington, District of Columbia.

Catherine O’Brien, MPH, MA

Director of Workforce Research, Mather LifeWays, Evanston, Illinois.

Scott P. King, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Shenandoah University, Winchester, Virginia.


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How to Cite

Selod, MA, S., J. Heineman, PhD, C. O’Brien, MPH, MA, and S. P. King, PhD. “Long-Term Care and Disaster Preparedness: A Study of Organizational Types and Levels of Preparedness for a Disaster or Emergency”. Journal of Emergency Management, vol. 9, no. 2, Mar. 2011, pp. 39-48, doi:10.5055/jem.2011.0052.