Children’s Rehabilitation Service is currently working on a quality improvement project to better prepare families of children with special health care needs for emergencies.
CRS discovered a need for better emergency preparedness among families of children with disabilities as part of last year’s comprehensive needs assessment survey, said CRS Maternal and Child Health Coordinator Lolita McLean.
“We were really surprised by the results,” said McLean. ” ‘What do you do if there is a tornado in your area? Where’s the nearest shelter? Will they accept pets? Do you have an adequate supply of needed medications if you become displaced?’ There’s a lot to think about when thinking about emergencies, and we’re finding out that our families aren’t as prepared for disaster as they need to be.”
CRS assembled a team of staff members to work on the project. McLean joined CRS Social Worker Rene Calloway, Parent Consultant Ree Clark, State Parent Consultant Susan Colburn, and Care Coordination Program Specialist Kimberly Lewis in brainstorming solutions to the issue.
The group participated in a five-part webinar series, “The ABC’s of Quality Improvement,” which concluded May 5. The CRS quality improvement project follows the PDSA cycle (plan, do, study, act), a systematic series of steps for gaining knowledge and learning for the continual improvement of a product or process.
“One of the first things we did was draft a five-question survey to ask our families about their level of preparedness,” McLean said. “When we first looked at the data, we realized that we needed to make a modification to the original survey and break one of the questions into two separate questions.”
With the modification made to the survey, the next step in the project is to analyze data and consult with University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Public Health to develop trainings for families, said McLean.
“A lot of positive changes have resulted from data received from previous needs assessment surveys,” said McLean. “A lot of our families need some help, and if we can better prepare them for a disaster, no matter how unlikely, then we are reducing worry and stress and allowing them to focus more on the care of their children.”