Disasters can strike anywhere, anytime, and senior living communities are not resistant to them. In fact, some may be more susceptible to certain types of damage, including their information technology (IT) systems. To prevent or mitigate IT issues after a disaster, and to get systems back up and running as soon as possible afterward, senior living communities need to have a solid IT disaster recovery plan (IT DRP).  

What Is an IT DRP? 

A disaster recovery plan is a document that sets forth policies, procedures, and responsibilities for recovering an organization’s IT systems after a disaster or unplanned incident. It aims to prevent or recover data loss, minimize any effects of the disaster, and resume normal operating functions as quickly as possible. The more downtime, the more risk of financial damages and repercussions to reputation, so time is an important element to consider. 

The types of IT disasters that senior living community operators should think about when developing an IT DRP don’t just include natural disasters such as hurricanes, fires, flooding,  tornadoes, or snow storms. They also include power outages for reasons other than weather, communication failures, and cyber attacks. 

What Types of IT Issues Are Affected by Disasters 

Businesses and organizations of all types use IT to process information in a quick and effective manner. For senior living communities, much of the electronic data that is stored or communicated is sensitive in nature because it often contains private health information. So, disasters can majorly impact the healthcare of residents and a data backup or restoration plan is essential.  

Other affected systems include electronic data interchange (EDI) used to make or receive payments and communication methods such as email and voice over internet protocol (VOIP). Communication during emergency situations is particularly important for residents living in senior living communities because they are often more vulnerable; they are often separated from family members and may have illnesses or mobility issues making evacuation and care more difficult. 

IT Recovery Strategies 

All senior living communities should include recovery strategies in their IT DRP to include restoring hardware (such as desktop and laptop computers, as well as wireless devices), software, data, and connectivity. Typically, each of these components is needed in order for the others to operate. Here are some steps to take when creating an IT DRP. 

  • Take a full inventory of all hardware, software, services, and other digital assets. 
  • Identify the most time-sensitive IT functions and prioritize the recovery of elements that affect those functions. 
  • Think through various possible scenarios and what could go wrong, and then develop solutions for each.  Include detailed, clear instructions for each situation. 
  • Define what constitutes a disaster and list all the types of possible disasters for your local area. 
  • Determine an off-site location to maintain operations. If your main facility is destroyed or uninhabitable, even temporarily, an off-site location may need to be established to resume operations. 
  • Develop a way to establish emergency communication between staff, residents, and others needed to make a quick recovery.  
  • Identify responsibilities and role assignments for key individuals. Assign specific tasks to individuals so there is no confusion about who does what. 
  • To avoid misinformation or sensationalism, contact the designated public relations or media person to handle speaking to the media about the situation. 
  • Keep a binder that includes contact information for key personnel such as managers and vendors. Include all important account details. Have this ready for when contacting help hotlines. 
  • Set up a hotline to exchange important information in the event of a disaster. If the phone hardware vendor doesn’t manage the physical lines, call the phone line carrier for redirecting lines.  

Preparation for IT Emergencies in Senior Living Communities 

In addition to creating an IT DRP, here is a list of some best practices to stay prepared in the event of an emergency. 

  • Create an emergency contact list for all residents and staff in your community 
  • Keep flashlights and two-way radios charged or with batteries, and keep them in a designated spot where residents and staff will know how to access them. 
  • Consider a cloud-based phone system if you do not already have one. Another option is having an off-site backup phone system. 
  • In the event of a disaster that necessitates evacuating the building, be sure to turn off the gas lines and all hardware and grab the pre-made emergency binder if it is safe to do so. 

RSN Technologies Has IT Disaster Recovery Solutions 

If you’re looking for comprehensive IT management services, RSN Technologies can provide that. We can set up your entire infrastructure, monitor and administer your IT systems (hardware, software, and networks), provide helpdesk support, and more. We have disaster solutions that are built-in and have even been put to the test in actual evacuations. If you’re interested in keeping your senior living community prepared for disasters and want to ensure quick recovery if one occurs, get in touch with us