You find a qualified prospect for long-term care insurance (LTCI).

Your customer buys coverage, then uses the benefits to pay for nursing home care, assisted living facility care or home care.

Then a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake heads toward your client’s residence.

What then?

One answer is that LTCI agents ought to recommend a professional review of homeowners insurance and personal property-casualty coverage when LTCI clients change living arrangements.

Another answer is that some long-term care (LTC) facilities and home care providers take disaster preparedness more seriously than others

The Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) highlighted planning gaps in a nursing home disaster preparedness report released this week.

The HHS OIG investigators looked at nursing homes because HHS has the authority to oversee disaster preparedness at nursing homes; state government agencies are responsible for reviewing assisted living facilities’ preparedness plans.

The investigators conducted in-depth reviews of 24 homes that have experienced natural disasters in the past few years. The investigators had enough candidates to choose from that they were able to limit the reviews to nursing homes that still have the same administrators and nursing directors they had at the time of the disasters.

In real disasters, investigators say, the 24 nursing homes reviewed reported having more trouble than they had expected with matters such as rounding up backup staff, providing drinking water, and transporting medical records in an emergency.

The challenges can lead to serious hardship. Analysts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) note in a background paper that people ages 60 and older made up just 15% of the population of New Orleans in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit, but that people in that age group suffered about 70% of the reported mortalities.

“Data from the Louisiana Department of Health show that almost 70 nursing home residents died in their facilities,” the CDC analysts report. “Many were allegedly abandoned by their caretakers. Almost no information is available on what happened to residents of assisted living, board and care homes, and other less-regulated facilities.”

Some disaster-prone states, such as California and Florida, keep careful watch on assisted living facilities, but other states have been less vigilant. The Assisted Living Federation of America, Alexandria, Va., has tried to fill the gaps by publishing a detailed preparedness guide for member facilities.

Meanwhile, here is a glimpse at the kinds of disasters that affected the nursing homes the HHS OIG inspectors reviewed.

 

 

CALIFORNIA

 

Irvine, Calif., wildfire
 

A wildfire burns near Irvine, Calif., in 2007. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

 

 

County 1: Wildfire

2007

Population: 3,053,793

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 1

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 2

 

County 2: Wildfire

2009

Population: 407,057

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 2

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

 

 

 LOUISIANA

 

Aftermath of Hurricane Ike
 
 
Holly Vogel had to empty a freezer for her mother, Delores Charpentier, in Houma, La., in September 2008, after Charpentier returned from being evacuated for Hurricane Gustav. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
 
 

County 1: Hurricane

2008

Population: 109,291

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 0

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

County 2: Hurricane

2008

Population: 52,217

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 1

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

 

 

MINNESOTA

 

Minnesota flooding

 

Verne Parks brought supplies to Oakport, Minn., homeowners who were fighting flooding in March 2009. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

 

County 1: Flood

2009

Population: 56,763

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 1

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

 

 

NORTH CAROLINA

 

Hurricane Earl
 

Hurricane Earl whirled toward the coast of North Carolina in September 2010. (AP Photo/NOAA

 

County 1: Hurricane

2010

Population: 64,423

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 2

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

County 2: Hurricane

2010

Population: 34,296

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 0

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

NORTH DAKOTA

 

North Dakota flooding
 
Flood waters lap at a barn in March 2010. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
 
 

County 1: Flood

2009

Population: 143,339

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 0

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 2

 

TENNESSEE

 

Tennessee flooding
 
 
Flood waters swept belongings out of houses in Bellevue, Tenn., in May 2010. (AP Photo/ M. Spencer Green)
 
 

County 1: Flood

2010

Population: 920,232

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 0

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

County 2: Flood

2010

Population: 26,471

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 1

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 0

 

County 3: Flood

2010

Population: 22,057

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 0

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

TEXAS

 

Hurricane Ike
 
 
Officials told reporters they believed the staff of a public housing complex for the elderly may have left Jerry Shunkwiller and Ron Molmen to fend for themselves after Hurrican Ike hit Houston in September 2008. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

 

 

County 1: Hurricane

2008

Population: 4,070,989

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 1

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1

 

County 2: Hurricane

2008

Population: 286,814

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Sheltered Residents in Place? 1

How Many of the Selected Nursing Homes Evacuated Residents? 1