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Disaster preparedness of private social services: case Finland

Merja Rapeli (Preparedness Unit, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Helsinki, Finland)
Helena Mussalo-Rauhamaa (Clinicum, Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Article publication date: 2 May 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the level of disaster preparedness of institutional care and sheltered housing services provided by the private sector in Finland.


A web-based questionnaire was completed by businesses producing institutional care and sheltered housing services in Finland. They answered questions on disaster preparedness, impacts of recent hazards, measures taken during the hazards and connections to disaster risk management actors and relatives of their residents during the hazards.


The study showed that only 19 percent of the private service providers had a disaster preparedness plan, and only 11 percent reported that it was a requirement agreed on with the service purchaser. The size of the unit predicted only partly the differences in the level of preparedness. The major impacts of storms were on energy supply, leading to disruptions in the daily activities of the services.

Practical implications

The most vulnerable to disasters are people dependent on others, which include those receiving social services. Consequently, this study recommends that preparedness planning should be legally mandated requirement for all social service providers. In addition, the local governments’ service purchasers should include private services in their disaster preparedness activities.


Private businesses are increasingly involved in producing social services in Finland; hence, their preparedness to face hazards and connection with disaster risk management partners is vital. This study increases knowledge of private institutional care and sheltered housing services’ disaster preparedness, which has seldom been the focus of studies.



Rapeli, M. and Mussalo-Rauhamaa, H. (2017), "Disaster preparedness of private social services: case Finland", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 40-51.



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