500 residents evacuated in NSW bushfires

NSW bushfires force evacuation of 500 aged care residents from five aged care facilities in the Blue Mountains.

illana halliday 1
Illana Halliday, CEO ACSA NSW-ACT

Bushfires raging across New South Wales have forced the evacuation of 500 residents from five aged care facilities in the Blue Mountains as the state battles the worst bushfire crisis in decades.

In mass operations across the region, residents were evacuated to other aged care facilities, hospitals and hotels in Sydney’s western suburbs on Tuesday in the face of extreme fire conditions.

Increasing smoke in Springwood forced the evacuation of 63 residents at Principal Endeavour aged care facility to nine different locations in western Sydney including four other facilities owned by Domain Principal Group. An additional 55 residents living in assisted living apartments were transported by coach to the Rooty Hill RSL and the Novotel Hotel.

Domain Principal Group managing director Gary Barnier said while there was no immediate risk of fire to the Springwood facility, the increasing smoke from the fires and back burning operations posed a risk to the health of residents.

UnitingCare Ageing evacuated 120 residents from its Springwood Village facility in a mass operation between 3pm and midnight on Tuesday.

UnitingCare Ageing Director Steve Teulan described the evacuation as well-organised but traumatic and praised the efforts of all the staff involved, many of whom had their own homes at risk of fire damage.

He said all residents had been transferred by minibus and ambulance to alternative accommodation in four other UnitingCare Ageing services in western Sydney and staff were doing everything possible to keep residents calm.

Acknowledging the scale of the event, Mr Teulan said the organisation has drawn staff from across its network. “The assistance, professionalism and generosity from our network has been incredible,” he said.

In an effort to help lighten the mood and keep residents calm, especially those with dementia, staff organised an entertainer to visit one of the facilities on Wednesday.

Mr Teulan said residents were being cared for in vacant beds and in unoccupied areas and due to electronic care records residents’ information was immediately available to staff.

In addition to resettling UnitingCare Springwood’s 120 residents, UnitingCare Ageing had also agreed to temporarily accommodate 15 residents from another aged care provider requiring evacuation from Springwood.

UnitingCare Ageing’s Nepean Community Care Service, which operates out of offices at Springwood Village, has also been temporarily relocated.

Buckland Nursing Home, Kurrajong Nursing Home and 120 residents from Catholic Healthcare’s Bodington aged care facility in Wentworth Falls were also evacuated on Tuesday.

CEO of the Aged and Community Services Association NSW-ACT, Illana Halliday, said she was inspired by the generosity of providers who willingly offered their staff and resources to support the evacuation and resettlement of residents.

She said four providers – United Protestant Association, Anglican Retirement Villages, Presbyterian Aged Care NSW-ACT and Anglicare Chesalon – immediately put their buses and carers on standby ready to assist with the evacuation.

“It has been a very busy and stressful period and members are to be commended for the calm and committed approaches taken, literally in the line of fire,” said Ms Halliday.

“This also applies to members around the state who have also had to test their evacuation plans whilst watching the smoke and flames in their areas.

“I’m sure that when we come through this difficult period there will be lots for all of us to learn.”

The Department of Social Services is continuing to support NSW emergency management agencies should further evacuations be required.

Evacuated facilities:

  • Uniting Care Springwood Village
  • Buckland Nursing Home
  • Principal Endeavour (Domain Principal Group)
  • Kurrajong Nursing Home
  • Bodington (Catholic Healthcare)
Tags: blue mountains, bushfires, evacuations, illana-halliday, steve-teulan,

1 thought on “500 residents evacuated in NSW bushfires

  1. Thank you to the aged care community for opening your doors to the Blue Mountains residents. It is great to have our residents home again. Thank you to management and staff for ensuring the provision of exceptional care under difficult circumstances. Thank you to the emergency service staff and out firies.

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