ARCHIVED: Building a Global Framework to Address the Needs and Contributions of Older People in Emergencies – Trqaining


62. In addition to the above priorities, participants of the Winnipeg Workshop also identified four cross-cutting priorities that are important for building national capacity to address the needs of seniors in emergency situations. Action on each of these four areas-individually and more important, collectively-is expected to facilitate the development and implementation of national and community level emergency management plans and contribute to the longer-term sustainability of efforts for seniors and emergency preparedness globally.


63. Progress has been made in raising awareness of the needs of certain vulnerable populations in emergency situations such as women and children but the needs of older people often continue to receive inadequate attention. Therefore, emergency managers, responders, other service providers, and volunteers need to gain a firm understanding of the special needs and capacities of older people through the development of integrated training approaches. It is important that the training builds expertise within and across emergency management and health and gerontology sectors-and that the various disciplines share and learn from each other-but also that it builds and strengthens emergency preparedness competencies and skills within allied agencies and service sectors including social services institutions, home care and support, and long-term care facilities.

64. Training in emergency preparedness and response is required for a broad range of planners, deliverers, and decision-makers. It is needed in relation to such issues as conducting vulnerability assessments; determining health, psychosocial and mental health needs; and understanding age-related impairments. Seniors need to be included as they rarely receive substantive training in emergency preparedness. In addition, it is important to evaluate best practices in training to determine what works and what doesn't work (i.e. to learn from mistakes). This knowledge can guide the development of new tools and templates and/or be used to adapt existing tools, particularly where these are already being used effectively by other human service deliverers.

65. There is a need for a global environmental scan on training resources, programmes, and practices with a view to developing a generic training framework adaptable for use by all countries. Such a framework needs to suggest who to train, how to train, and what should be taught. This includes articulation of roles and responsibilities among partners for training, consideration of a multi-tiered approach to training distinguishing among different emergency respondents' responsibilities and needs, and funding strategies. It should also address ways to engage community-based organizations and volunteers who should implement the training wherever possible to ensure local delivery in culturally and linguistically appropriate formats.

Tools, Resources and Best Practices

66. Better coordination and sharing of the emergency preparedness tools, resources, and best practices already in place can substantially strengthen emergency management efforts.

67. As well, there is a need to develop, adapt, distribute, and use a wide variety of additional resources for emergency preparedness purposes. These include:

  1. checklists and assessment tools to assess the vulnerability of older people and to enable individuals and communities themselves to identify and prioritize needs;
  2. guidelines to promote minimal health care requirements and standards;
  3. health registries to provide access to critical patient information while respecting privacy considerations;
  4. frameworks to facilitate the development of Business Continuity Plans for care providers and suppliers (public and private); and
  5. tools to identify features and characteristics of appropriate special needs shelters and to assess and monitor care (for example, screening tools) in special needs shelters and home care.

Strengthening Networks

68. Collaboration and cooperation are critical at all levels to ensure the development and implementation of timely and effective emergency preparedness efforts. The complexity of the issues and cross-cutting nature of the responses dictate that all levels of government need to be involved in managing disasters, along with a host of other players, including academics and researchers, civil society organizations, and the private sector. This includes the need to strengthen existing networks and partnerships at the global level, for example, enhancing links with the International Association of Emergency Managers Standing Committee on Vulnerable Populations and continuing the dialogue with the WHO's Health Action in Crisis Unit to keep seniors' issues in the forefront of ongoing policy development.

69. In addition, there was support at the Winnipeg Workshop for the creation of a formal alliance to promote and maintain ongoing communication, coordination and momentum among stakeholders around seniors and emergency preparedness and to work collectively towards concrete progress in this field. Following the workshop, two Steering Committees were struck to refine and expand on the identified priorities, to propose short and longer-term activities for each, and to identify potential partners for moving the proposed measures forward. One committee is reviewing potential international actions and the other is focusing on Canadian-specific activities.

Supporting Data Development and Research

70. There is an urgent need for better data collection, analysis and research to support all efforts relating to seniors and emergency preparedness. This is required to inform ongoing work associated with the MIPAA generally and with seniors and emergency preparedness specifically. Ultimately, better information will also guide policy and programme development and decision-making at the local, national, and international levels.

71. In the area of information and data, the priority lies in strengthening local and national capacities to collect, disaggregate, and analyze age and gender specific data. In addition, seniors and communities generally need to be better engaged in data gathering processes and in the design and implementation of research methods, including the use of community-based participatory action research.

72. Further research is required on almost all aspects of ageing, including seniors in emergencies; this need extends from more of the broad kinds of qualitative research undertaken by HelpAge International and supported by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the experiences of older people in emergencies to more focused qualitative and quantitative forms of research on such issues as the links between isolation and marginalization of older people and their vulnerability in crises and conversely, the factors most contributing to the resiliency and well-being of older people in emergencies.

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