Aged care workers in northern New South Wales and south-east Queensland have faced additional challenges over recent days as rising flood waters overwhelmed facilities.
Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, BaptistCare NSW/ACT CEO Charles Moore said: “Things on the ground in the Northern Rivers are incredibly difficult now. Beyond the fact that our aged care teams have spent two years working through the ongoing COVID crisis, some of our staff are now experiencing significant personal loss and grief. We’re concerned about them, as well as our customers right across the region.”
The BaptistCare Mid Richmond Centre in Coraki northern NSW is cut off entirely, said Mr Moore. “It is literally an island,” he said. Today, an internal surge workforce drafted in from other BaptistCare sites will arrive by helicopter to provide much-needed relief to Mid Richmond centre staff and assist with general duties.
Staff shortages in the sector due to COVID are well documented, these shortages have now “become ever more acute,” said Mr Moore. “We expect this to get worse before it gets better,” he said. “Many of our care force is cut off or have emergencies in their own homes, and this will continue to be the case as waters recede.”
BaptistCare is also experiencing difficulties accessing essential supplies, including diesel for generators and food and water for residents and staff. “We really need to see more support from all levels of government to ensure we can deliver ongoing quality care to our residents, clients and tenants in these challenging circumstances,” Mr Moore told AAA.
Meanwhile, in south-east Queensland, Bolton Clarke’s Fairview facility was isolated by flood waters. Fairview staff, along with police and swift water teams, have ferried relief staff to support 113 residents.
Bolton Clarke’s Bongaree site on Bribie Island was also cut off by flood waters. Its local team converted the retirement village’s community centre into temporary accommodation for residents whose units were damaged during the wild weather. In all, 14 Bolton Clarke communities have been impacted by the rising waters.
“I’ve witnessed some incredible examples of courage and commitment to our residents and clients over the past few days,” Bolton Clarke Group CEO Stephen Muggleton said in a statement.
“This selfless and unwavering dedication truly goes to the heart of what we do. My thoughts are particularly with team members who are being personally impacted by the floods as we see the true extent of the damage.”
Main image: With access to several communities likely to remain cut off for some time, Bolton Clarke team members have worked with police to travel by boat to access sites