How to Handle A Snow Emergency

Welcome to the Midwest, where the snow is never a big surprise but always big news. Schools may close, and your gym may cancel yoga class; perhaps the county even declares a snow emergency. But what do you actually do when fifty percent of your staff can't make it to work? Here are some tips we have compiled that you may want to think about during your next snow emergency:

1. All hands on deck. This sounds like common sense, but how you utilize the hands you have is important. Be sure that your business office staff are assisting with serving meals, dining staff are doing post-meal cleanup, etc. Have calls forwarded to one central person rather than individual nurses when possible. Ensure that your trained nursing staff are actually doing nursing.

2. Confirm the next three shifts immediately. Once the first wave hits, start planning for the next day. Try to pinpoint what obstacles people are facing. Match employees up that may be able to carpool. Pad tomorrow's schedule today with extras. If you wait until the morning, it will be too late.

3. Control the conversation. By ten o'clock this morning, employees were declaring an official "Level Two Snow Emergency." Understand your county and/or state regulations related to weather; these decisions and guidelines are always controlled by county officials. Be proactive by phoning the county Emergency Management number, which is located in the front of your area phone book. Most states and counties allow "essential" health care workers to transport to and from work when others are banned from the roads. Educate your staff on this rather than letting them "educate" you.

4. Coordinate picking people up. Offering rides to employees with your four-wheel drive vehicle is great, but coordinate several pick-ups at the same time. Remember your own safety.

5. Offer a comfortable place for staff to sleep. Some of your staff are so dedicated that they will a) anticipate the weather and call-offs b) pack a bag, and c) offer to stay overnight. Return the favor by offering an area that is private, away from the residents, and comfortable. I suggest making up "care-packages" with soap, lotion, toothbrush and toothpaste, candy bars, etc. to have ready to hand out when these situations come up.

6. Feed people for free. If you have an employee meal program, today is the day to waive the $2.00 for the people that made it in. I stopped this morning and bought around 100 donuts as well. This is not motivation by pizza, just "thanks, we bet you're hungry."

7. The decision is theirs. It is easy to resent those who call off due to weather when you are at the building with your sleeves rolled up. Your employees are adults, and the decision they make is theirs. Don't force someone to drive in and wind up regretting it later if something happens.

A wise person taught me that.


Alexander Kjerulf said...

That's a great bunch of tips.

I've heard from many organizations, that a crisis like this can actually be a chance to pull together to create something good out of a bad situation.

It can even be a lot of fun - if you approach it correctly, according to your tips.

The Nursing Home Administrator said...

Every time you experience one of these occurrences it is important to document your actions so you can reflect and learn from them for next time.

We tend to create our emergency preparedness plans on sunny days. Bad idea.