"Just In Case" Supports Agency's Emergency Preparedness Plan
The agency has made a priority of identifying best practice education materials and fostering the growth of demonstration projects with high potential for sustainability as key strategies for extending the value and life of the grant initiative.
One of the first tools adopted by the grant was the Just in Case community education kit. Martha Grove Hipskind, project coordinator, reports that she was eager to test audience response to emergency preparedness messages and was delighted to discover such a wonderful resource to support the agency’s emergency education goals during her first week in the position. “The program has an easy message and is really well organized, even for those presenters who have less experience—with the subject matter or with organizing their own presentations,” says Hipskind.
However, excitement alone does not get a seven-county program off the ground! After internal review, Hipskind scheduled pilot test presentations at senior centers in three counties—Durham, Orange, and Wake—choosing both an urban and rural presentation site in each county.
Hipskind Offers Tips for Presenters
Hipskind reports that she had the benefit of sitting in with a group of senior center directors shortly before the test site presentations began. This group, who knows their seniors well, advised that the presentation should be fun and interesting, and should always include the chance to win something for attending. Hipskind took their advice to heart and began each presentation with an interactive discussion about the types of disasters common in the region—such as hurricanes and ice storms—and those that some might not think of but would likely remember, such as recent flooding, and a major chemical explosion that forced evacuation of 95 residents of an area nursing facility.
To engage the audience, Hipskind opened each presentation wearing a Mylar emergency blanket, asking the audience to guess why, and giving a blanket to those who guessed correctly. Another fun component of the presentation was a prize drawing for disaster-related goodie bags compiled of items easily purchased locally. Hipskind shared with participants that she had obtained the disaster kit items at Wal-Mart, camping stores, and military surplus outlets, reinforcing a message found in the Just In Case video… that gathering emergency supplies is easy and can be fun!
It quickly became apparent that the free prizes (and lunch) weren’t the only aspects of the program that engaged the audience! Reports Hipskind, “Each time I dimmed the lights, I went to the back of the room and observed the audience. This was a roomful of older adults, ranging from healthy to frail, and no one was nodding off! In fact, everyone leaned forward while watching the video. For example, I’ve noticed that audiences always laugh when one woman in the video says, ‘Procrastination, it’s gonna come back and bite you!’ Senior audiences really connect with the seniors in the video.”
The response was phenomenal on the formal feedback forms provided in the community education kit, as well. Hipskind suggests to other presenters that the written evaluation forms may be challenging for those with vision, literacy, or dementia issues, so presenters will want to monitor the ease with which forms are being completed and be ready to convert to a verbal assessment if necessary.
To fulfill the demonstration grant objectives, the Triangle J AAA will now invite approximately 300 provider organizations that work with older adults and caregivers to send employees from their organizations to a training session to learn how to use the Just in Case kit to give presentations to their communities. Attending individuals will receive a special price on the kit, and even more valuable—experience and advice from Martha Grove Hipskind about how to use the program effectively!
In addition, the Triangle J AAA wants to ensure that every county in the region will have this effective resource available for ongoing use in senior centers, adult day programs, and family caregiver support groups, so they have purchased a copy of the community education kit for each of their seven-county locations.
Martha Grove Hipskind is a gerontologist based in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she has developed an extensive eldercare consulting practice that provides care management services to families, education and training under the trademark Eldercare University, and organizational consulting to healthcare systems, senior living providers, and real estate networks. She considers the addition of emergency readiness messaging for seniors one of the most significant developments of her work to date.
Just in Case is the result of collaboration between Caresource Healthcare Communications, Inc. publishers of Aging in Stride, and the Administration on Aging. It is available as a free consumer resource online at www.aginginstride.org or on the Administration on Aging’s website. To purchase the complete community education kit, please visit www.aginginstride.org/emergencyprep/default.htm.