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124 Disaster preparedness of private social services calls for cooperation with the public sector
  1. Merja Rapeli,
  2. Helena Mussalo-Rauhamaa
  1. Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Finland


Background Global warming increases the amount of disasters. The impacts of the phenomenon on social, economic and ecological environment are, thus, greater than before. Finland is not situated in a very disaster prone area, however, hazardous storms are not unknown to the country. Consequences of disasters are worst for people who are also in normal life more vulnerable, thus, we need knowledge how these population groups have been protected in case of disasters. Disaster preparedness is obligatory for municipal social work and services. The legal obligation does not, though, apply to the private sector. In Finland one third of the social services are produced by private organisations and their responsibility of preparedness planning should be agreed on while purchasing the services.

Methods In our study we explored private social service organisations’ adoption of mitigation activities after heavy storms in 2013 and the preparedness measures taken. We sent a questionnaire to all private social service organisations producing residential care in Finland. SPSS descriptive statistics were used to analyse the data. Majority of the clients in these services were the elderly, but included also disabled, clients with mental health and substance abuse disorders, and children taken into care.

Results Our findings showed that the storms had had impacts on the daily activities of nearly one fourth of the service producers. The major impacts had been to energy supply. Various measures were taken to mitigate the effects, though minority had to evacuate their clients. Only 10 per cent of the respondents reported that preparedness planning was a requirement agreed on with the service purchaser.

Conclusions The most vulnerable to disasters are people dependent on others, which most often include those in residential services. Consequently we recommend the service purchases to include private social work and services in their disaster preparedness activities.

  • social work
  • social services
  • disasters
  • private organisations
  • preparedness
  • mitigation

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