This post is the second in a series on the unique challenges encountered when addressing emergency preparedness following a brain injury. There are many possible issues following a brain injury that can arise regarding shelter/housing. Below is a list of some of those issues.
1. People commonly evacuate to the home of a family member or loved one during a hurricane. After a brain injury, the survivor and his or her family need to discuss whether any home previously chosen as a destination is handicapped accessible. For instance, if the survivor is in a wheelchair and the only way to enter a home is via a stairway, the home will now clearly be far less accessible to the survivor. Further, if the survivor now has need for a large amount of equipment, the survivor and his or her family need to assess whether there is enough room in the home to accommodate all such equipment.
2. Usually hotels offer better handicapped accessibility than private homes as they must follow federal accessibility law. Many times hotels have a limited number of rooms available that are equipped to meet the specific needs of people with disabilities. It is often helpful to inform hotels in advance that a person planning a stay has a disability. This helps everyone involved with preparations in order to ensure the smoothest transition possible. Keep in mind that it still applies in this scenario that it is illegal for a person to be denied housing based on a disability.
3. When making plans for emergency housing, it is important to also take into consideration the outside of a home/hotel. As an example, a house may be sufficiently accessible on the inside but may have an uneven, gravel driveway on which the survivor cannot walk without risking a fall.
4. If the survivor with a brain injury becomes easily agitated by noise or suffers from similar problems, it may be best to get a hotel room as far away as possible from any restaurants, ice machines, lobbies or elevators. Similarly, it may therefore be best to evacuate to a private home that has few if any children or pets.
5. Keep in mind that it is illegal for facilities such as hotels to bar service animals.
Hopefully this post helped to raise awareness regarding shelter/housing issues that a brain injury survivor needs to consider in the context of emergency preparedness. The next post will cover medical and health issues as they relate to emergency preparedness in such a scenario.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org