Creating and Operating a Family Assistance Center - A Toolkit for Public Health

SUPPORTING FAMILIES DURING TIMES OF CRISIS

Other Primary Services

The following are additional primary services that should be available during any FAC activation:

  • Medical or First Aid Services

    The availability of medical or first aid services is important to FAC operations. At any time, family members or other FAC visitors or staff may find themselves in need of medical assistance, whether due to injury, reactions to stress, grief or emotional trauma, or as a result of other chronic medical conditions. The FAC should be able to offer basic first aid and a location for individuals to rest and receive basic care. In addition, the medical staff should serve as a liaison to other medical services in the community or that are being coordinated through the response.

  • Consider using your local Medical Reserve Corps to provide medical staff to support your FAC operations.
  • Childcare Services

    Childcare services should be available during all FAC operations to provide a safe and secure area for the children of FAC visitors during the FAC’s normal hours of operation. The childcare area should provide a safe, friendly, and healthy environment for short-term care, which allows family members to tend to necessary business and provides a period of respite for parents or guardians during a highly stressful and emotional situation. The childcare area should be prepared to provide support and activities for children representing a range of areas and should be structured and staffed to provide appropriate monitoring and support for children’s needs.

    For the safety, security, and well-being of the children being cared for in the childcare area it is recommended that services be provided only by licensed child care providers.

    As a part of the childcare services, ensure that there is appropriate documentation of children in the childcare area through sign in and sign out and badging or tagging procedures (e.g. wristbands, tape with unique identifier on child’s clothing). Consider taking a digital photo of the child with their responsible guardian to compare at sign out.

  • Death Notifications

    Death notification is the process of notifying the next of kin or family members about the positive identification of their loved one. The official confirmation of a loved one’s death is often an important step in the family members’ grieving process and allows the next of kin and family to coordinate memorial services and begin dealing with their loved one’s estate. 

    The process of death notifications is highly sensitive and should be handled by individuals with experience in these areas. A poorly managed death notification can lead to significant personal trauma or distress for both family members and personnel doing the notification. Death notifications are generally led by the Medical Examiner/Coroner’s Office personnel, but may also involve local law enforcement, spiritual care providers, and/or crisis counselors. 

  • Food Services

    In order to meet family and staff’s basic needs, and to provide a sense of comfort and structure and promote healthy self-care, the FAC should plan to provide three basic meals each day, as well as healthy snacks and beverages throughout the day. Staff and families should have separate areas to eat and mental health and spiritual care workers should be available in both areas at all times.

    It is important to consider that food is an important aspect of cultural and ethnic traditions related to death and grieving. Pay attention to the ethnic and cultural composition of the families at the FAC and ensure appropriate foods are available to meet their needs.

  • Translation and Interpretation Services

    As a part of FAC operations, it is important to consider the need for interpretation or translation services. These may be needed to:

    • Provide translation and interpretation services in individual and family meetings and during family briefings, and
    • To translate FAC materials and antemortem records

    Because of the sensitivity and sometimes scientific nature of discussions at the FAC it is important to try and identify individuals that are trained in, or familiar with, cultural practices, medical or scientific information, and legal processes. To identify these individuals consider working with local social service agencies, the local consulate, local hospitals, universities, courts, or faith-based groups or organizations.

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