How should social care services respond to floods?

by Roy Taylor, ADASS lead director on civil contingency

The ability of social care staff to respond effectively in civil emergency was greatly tested in this summer’s floods, which seriously affected parts of the UK.

As the floods were at their peak, in June and July, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) began to make arrangements for an autumn seminar, bringing together directors of social services, emergency planners, and leading organisations, in order to bring out any learning points for social care whilst the knowledge from direct experience was still fresh in the mind.

A successful seminar, for 60 delegates, was held at Sheffield United Football Club, with Sheffield City Council hosting the event, and ADASS, Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), and Care Services Improvement Partnership (CSIP) as co-sponsors. 

Full findings from the seminar can be found at (enter ‘floods’ in the search box) but the following give an illustration of some of the learning points:-

Pre Planning:

  • Make sure major emergency plans, rest centre plans, and flood plans are up to date
  • directors of social care must be involved in civil contingency planning
  • Plans should be tested on regular basis
  • Knowledge of vulnerable people is vital
  • Links between directors of adult social services and directors of children’s services are essential


  • Staff pulled out to deal with emergencies leave teams which still need to function
  • Support arrangements for staff need to be put in place
  • Rotas and shifts are important.  Don’t wear staff out – even if they want to carry on!
  • Think creatively – in one area where several residential care homes were out of action, a commissioning manager reserved all remaining vacancies in homes for a short period.
  • Depending on the scale of the emergency, you may need a Plan C as well as A and B!  Use of volunteers may be critical.
  • Make mobile technology part of the response.
  • Housing departments may have some accommodation which can quickly be refurbished in emergency – enough for a crisis period.
  • A key task may be to help people remain in their own homes if possible.
  • Use all information at hand to determine who is vulnerable.  Local press, churches and faith groups, and internet can all help.
  • Roles of social care staff in rest centres and humanitarian assistance centres can be critical factor in response and aid recovery.
  • Be clear how you wish to handle issues of pets.
  • Social care partnerships with all responding agencies is vital – close liaison with healthcare partners can prevent further vulnerability.
  • Keep communication going during response.
  • Immediate practical and financial help is likely to be necessary.


  • Clarity needed re when ‘response’ phase moves to ‘recovery’.
  • Vulnerability may increase if recovery not handled well.
  • Need to determine exit strategies.
  • Recovery can take months – be prepared.
  • Agree roles needed during recovery phase.
  • Make sure both response and recovery are reviewed and monitored.  Learning gathered may prove really useful in the future.


More from Community Care

Comments are closed.