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Journal cover: International Journal of Emergency Services

International Journal of Emergency Services

ISSN: 2047-0894

Online from: 2012

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Addressing psychosocial and community recovery in emergency management

Document Information:
Title:Addressing psychosocial and community recovery in emergency management
Author(s):Anne Eyre, (Trauma Training, Coventry, UK), Kate Brady, (Australian Red Cross, Melbourne, Australia)
Citation:Anne Eyre, Kate Brady, (2013) "Addressing psychosocial and community recovery in emergency management", International Journal of Emergency Services, Vol. 2 Iss: 1, pp.60 - 72
Keywords:Assistance, Communities, Community, Disasters, Emergency, Humanitarian, Management, Needs, Psychosocial, Recovery, Resilience
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/IJES-09-2012-0037 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to highlight key themes and issues relating to the recovery phase of disaster. Particular emphasis is given to psychosocial and community dimensions and the lessons identified by and for those working in recovery-related programmes. The paper starts with a review of the research undertaken as a result of two Winston Churchill Memorial Trust fellowships, and is followed by a discussion of the meaning and application of recovery in relation to emergency management.

Design/methodology/approach – Both Churchill projects shared the common aim of seeking to understand the meaning of psychosocial recovery following disaster from the perspective of those directly involved in community-based activities. A snowball sampling approach enabled further contacts to develop beyond initial interviewees identified. The following themes informed the topics explored and questions asked: comparative experiences of community impacts of disasters and approaches to psychosocial support strategies; post-disaster activities that supported the wellbeing of people and communities following major emergencies (and those which did not work so well); and lessons and implications for future post-disaster recovery agendas.

Findings – The purpose and key principles of psychosocial recovery are highlighted, including the importance of focusing on people, facilitating community engagement and addressing organizational and personal resilience among recovery personnel. The need to plan for and address psychosocial recovery as part of an integrated and holistic approach to emergency management is a key message in this paper and, it is argued, is of relevance to all involved in dealing with disasters: “if there is an emergency to respond to, there is something to recover from”, as Kate Brady wrote in 2010 in Best Practice Psychosocial Recovery following Emergencies.

Social implications – Further research might build on the themes identified here and draw further comparisons across other case studies in terms of the meaning of recovery and what “success” might mean in terms of recovery programmes. In the UK, a longitudinal perspective might also offer researchers opportunity to examine the experiences and lessons associated with psychosocial recovery across those communities affected by the decade of disasters in the 1980s, soon approaching their 30th anniversaries.

Originality/value – Based on primary research, the article reinforces and illustrates key themes and principles in the field of disaster recovery. It focusses on the psychosocial dimension, an aspect sometimes neglected in disaster management. Its messages are of value to both researchers and practitioners within the field of emergency management.

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