By Lillian Radulova
With summer on its way and memories of the QLD floods and cyclone Yasi still at the forefront of every Australians mind, the ABM and a key aged care consumer organisation are warning aged care providers to revamp their emergency response measures ASAP.
The Australian Bureau of Meteorology recently told the QLD cabinet that the sunshine state alone is likely to experience above average rainfall, high bushfire danger and at least four cyclones this year.
CEO of National Seniors Australia, Michael O’Neill, said that the evacuations following the disasters in QLD and VIC this year were ‘a good wake up call’ for the entire community when it comes to dealing with more vulnerable members like the elderly.
“I think were past having one-off events, whether it’s a cyclone or flood,” Mr O’Neill said.
“It needs to be about being properly prepared for an event of this kind in the same way that aged care is prepared for an outbreak of disease… it needs to be similarly regularly reviewed to make sure it’s capable of dealing with the challenges, and that any lessons that can be learnt from previous events are certainly responded to.”
Mr O’Neill identified adequate staff training in evacuations as the most important thing requiring attention, as well as transport issues, ensuring adequate water sewage supplies, emergency accommodation and beds, medical support and basic sustenance provisions which are suitable for older Australians.
Aged and community care provider, Blue Care, which was significantly impacted by the Queensland floods, is actively preparing for future disasters.
“After the flooding disasters which gripped Queensland earlier this year, feedback was collected from all staff involved and the information was used to adapt contingency plans for future events,” executive director of Blue Care, Robyn Batten, said.
“Every emergency contingency plan is tailored to each residential aged care home or community centre to ensure it covers local issues, geography and access to emergency services.
Mr O’Neill credits aged care facilities for their response in the disasters, but said more attention must be equally given to residents who receive community care.
“For those providing support for people in their own home, they should also recognise those challenges… they need to have a think about what their emergency plans are, as well as other emergency services.” Mr O’Neill said.