Michael A. Pizzi; Hurricane Sandy, Disaster Preparedness, and the Recovery Model. Am J Occup Ther 2015;69(4):6904250010. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2015.015990
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
OBJECTIVE. Hurricane Sandy was the second largest and costliest hurricane in U.S. history to affect multiple states and communities. This article describes the lived experiences of 24 occupational therapy students who lived through Hurricane Sandy using the Recovery Model to frame the research.
METHOD. Occupational therapy student narratives were collected and analyzed using qualitative methods and framed by the Recovery Model. Directed content and thematic analysis was performed using the 10 components of the Recovery Model.
RESULTS. The 10 components of the Recovery Model were experienced by or had an impact on the occupational therapy students as they coped and recovered in the aftermath of the natural disaster.
CONCLUSION. This study provides insight into the lived experiences and recovery perspectives of occupational therapy students who experienced Hurricane Sandy. Further research is indicated in applying the Recovery Model to people who survive disasters.
Preimpact period, when people who may be affected are warned of the disaster
Impact period, when the disaster occurs
Immediate postimpact period, when responders first assist those in need
Recovery period, in which day-to-day life begins to take shape and communities are reassembled
Reconstruction period, in which recovery on both a physical and psychological level takes place over a period of years.
Promoting health through empowering engagement and enabling participation in meaningful life tasks and roles,
Exploring home and other environmental supports and barriers and ensuring safety and security for participation and recovery,
Assisting clients in exploring their purpose and providing opportunities for realizing their purpose, and
Helping clients reintegrate successfully into their community.
What do occupational therapy students describe as their lived experiences of Hurricane Sandy?
How do the students’ lived experiences relate to the Recovery Model?
Using activities to facilitate adaptive responses will minimize and reverse the destructive interplay of cognitive/emotional dysfunction with concrete problems of daily living and rebuild victims’ sense of effective interaction with their environment thereby improving the speed and extent of recovery (p. 235).
Guide clients in creating positive goals
Promote a sense of resilience in clients as a prevention strategy for mental health promotion
Assess clients’ strategies for coping
Develop interventions based on clients’ adaptive capacity and coping strategies that worked with previous crises
Develop routines and occupations familiar to the client
Assess clients’ motivation to engage in occupations that foster meaning and purpose
Examine environments, especially in the community, in which the multiple skills of an occupational therapy practitioner could be used
Understand the complex nature of recovery and of rebuilding lives
Educate clients and communities about the progress and setbacks to be expected in the recovery process
Develop clients’ mental, physical, social, and spiritual health skills to cope with setbacks
Assist clients and communities in identifying mental, physical, social, and spiritual strengths they possess or can develop and help them engage those strengths through occupation
Identify the social systems that enable and support clients
Develop communication strategies, including use of social media, to help clients maintain relationships through the recovery process
Help clients embrace the positive and negative outcomes of the disaster and occupational disruption, which could lead to greater self-acceptance
Identify areas of clients’ lives that are barriers to feeling valued and help them find ways to feel satisfied with themselves
Identify factors that promote clients’ responsibility for self and others
Understand clients’ disrupted responsibilities and develop strategies to enable them to regain engagement in responsible behaviors
Teach clients cognitive reframing to manage negative outcomes
Help clients develop positive goals and visions for rebuilding their lives, both personally and as a community
Personal narratives about living through a natural disaster can assist in the recovery of affected people and provide valuable data about their experiences.
The Recovery Model, a mental health model for recovery, can be used as a guideline for practice and a frame of reference for intervention and research in disaster recovery.
Mental health practice can be enhanced by using the Recovery Model in real-world experiences other than substance abuse and mental illness, including recovery from natural disasters.
The findings provide a foundation for future research into the lived experiences of people surviving a natural disaster.
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