Health Related Services in Crisis Situations – a Study on Care-Dependent People

Friday, 20 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Andrea JUNGMANN, Disaster Research Unit, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Katja SCHULZE, Disaster Research Unit (DRU), Freie Universitat Berlin, Germany
Julia SCHANDER, Disaster Research Unit, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Against the backdrop of rising numbers of weather-related disasters worldwide (UNISDR, 2015) and an increasing reliance on infrastructure like electricity, communication, and health services, the question of what will occur if we fail to keep those services running during crises and disasters arises. As a result of long-term demographic developments, the number of people in need of personal care has continuously increased in most western societies. In Germany, the number of care-dependent persons increased by 9% in the past two years up to 2.86 million people in 2015 - 73% of whom live in private households (Statistisches Bundesamt, 2017). The ability to provide for their special medical needs in a crisis or a disaster presents a great challenge to the agencies and organizations tasked with public security. Given the paucity of centralized information about this vulnerable group, new ground needs to be broken to integrate their social networks, medical and nursing services as well as disaster management concepts and organizations.

Referring to data from an ongoing research project on the context of care-dependent people in disaster and crisis situations (KOPHIS), we will present the results of one qualitative and two quantitative studies. In these studies, we explored the anticipated needs of care-dependent people living in private households during a disaster scenario involving a long lasting water and power outage. The contribution will allow insight into the perspectives of disaster professionals, medical and nursing staff as well as care-dependent people and their relatives. It also discusses the extent to which care-dependent people, despite their alleged vulnerability, are accustomed to experiencing crises on a daily basis and whether they may have therefore developed individual mechanisms and resilient support networks that can be activated in disaster situations.