When Disaster Strikes: Business Continuity Plans

When Disaster Strikes: Business Continuity Plans

 

Residents are participating in post- dinner recreational activities in the facility ballroom, in an effort to ignore the raging storm outdoors, when darkness descends. The next thing they notice is the eerie quiet.

Power outage.

Administrative staff assess the situation, noting that many patients in the vent unit are dependent on life saving machinery. Elderly residents are beginning to panic.

Of course, the generator instantly kicks in. But who was to know how long the storm would last? Would there be running water? Was there an IT company that would venture outside to install an internet backup so pharmacy prescriptions can continue to be submitted? Were any residents trapped in restrooms or showers in their room?

Many staff members voice their opinion on the first steps to be taken, but the voices mingle with those of scared residents against the hum of the generators. Everybody panics, and nobody takes charge.

Natural, terrorist and IT disasters worldwide have a common denominator:

Shock → Panic

Therefore, when disaster strikes; preparedness is the key.

A Business Continuity Plan

The efficiency at which a facility can implement its business continuity plan will determine whether – often life-saving – services will withstand the crisis.

LTC facilities today, after experiencing hands-on the sudden onset, rapid spread, and tragic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, can attest to the importance of having a Business Continuity Plan in place.

The Show Must Go On

Unfortunately, natural and man-made disasters do happen. And when they hit, a plan of action – including first response steps, functioning during the crisis, and returning to normal business – when it passes, is crucial.

To work well, every BCP is dependent on its successful implementation. All pieces of the puzzle, including the strategies, responsible parties, and necessary resources must be carefully planned for and executed.

What is a BCP (Business Continuity Plan)?

A BCP is an organized plan of action, ready to be put into place when things go seriously wrong. The purpose of it is to ensure that services are maintained and restored during crises. This process will look very different for each company, and may include evacuation plans, communication protocols, contact lists, and anything else needed to support employees during a catastrophe.

  • Business Continuity Plans are used in the face of natural disasters, terror attacks, IT malfunction and cyber-crime, and pandemics.
  • The Societal Security developed the ISO 22301:2012, which is a formal statement of such plans, when organizations around the globe began to request a single international standard.
  • The ISO-22301 includes many projects, standards, and documents addressing a variety of topics related to business continuity in times of crisis.

Business Continuity for LTC facilities

By their nature, nursing facilities are often on the frontlines during crisis, and their resources are called upon to assist overwhelmed hospital personnel in treating sick patients. Coupled by the vulnerable health condition of many of their patients, this requires facilities to have a detailed and robust continuity plan in place. A BCP template sample specifically designed for nursing facility use can help ensure all important details are included.

The steps of successful Business Continuity Management:

  •  Business impact analysis identify important business processes and their support system.
    • A summary of which services and supplies must be restored first should be created.
      • Resident care, food services, and prescription care are high priority.
      • Environmental services and emotional support will likely follow next.
  • Business Continuity Plan – compile an organized response strategy to a business disruption
  1. A responsible party should be assigned for each recovery process.
  2. Required resources, contact information and any other information should be organized and easily accessible.
  3. Interdependenciessome components, like pharmaceuticals, supplies, and transportation may be handed over to third party providers or other branches during crisis.
  4. Strategy should include the possibility of prolonged service disruption.
  5. Evaluate your staff members’ ability to operate from home or via telemedicine.
  6. Specific recovery strategies and training is necessary for IT disruptions, since it includes many components to work properly.
  • Manual workarounds may be necessary to enable continued business while systems are repaired.
  •  Training for the responsible team should be executed and the recovery strategy evaluated using available testing and exercises.

Resume to Normal – a BCP plan isn’t complete until there is return-to-normal plan

  • Milestones should be created for the gradual return to usual services once the disaster is over.
  • Since it is impossible to predict how and when any occurrence will impact a specific facility, each organization must plan for the worst while hoping for the best.

Plan while you can

When a sudden crisis is concerned, everybody isn’t anybody and somebody is nobody.

Having a well prepared BCP in place will determine a facility’s ability to respond, act, and recover, sooner, and with minimal damage.

Additional Resources for Business Continuity Planning