Disaster Planning – Some thoughts and a checklist

‘It’ll never happen to us’ is something I often hear said by voluntary sector organisations when I mention disaster recovery procedures and business continuity policies. Fortunately most will have insurance so the computers are covered by insurance and the building can be repaired, but what about their data. Worryingly I meet organisations who don’t back up personnel information or keep offsite secure copies of files and who would have no way of accessing client or service user records should they need to restart their service elsewhere.

Monday dawned for an early start and a late finish (partly due to an incident where there was no Crew for the train at Crewe!) to visit Services for Independent Living in Leominster, another of our Connecting Care organisations. SIL work in partnership with local health services and local authorities to provide services that enable disabled and older people to live independent lives in their own homes within their own community.

They see data security and business contingency as central to their service delivery. They treat both the people they are supporting to live independently and that person’s information with equal respect. SIL have invested in a comprehensive IT support contract that will ensure their services would be up and running again on a replacement server in days not weeks or months. They have also been proactive in considering the many scenarios for continuing their operations should the building be inaccessible, staff unavailable or any other emergency situation arise. This information is well documented and very importantly is well tested too.

I want to see more social care organisations thinking like this.

I’d want the reassurance this gives if they were to be providing care and support services for my family by looking after their details responsibly. Wouldn’t you?

There is a Business Continuity & Disaster Checklist (125KB – PDF) we use that may be helpful. It offers prompts to some of the things that organisations should consider when thinking about their plans for business continuity.