By Stephen Easton
The respective leaders of the two bodies that represent NSW aged care providers have both commended those who contributed a wave of spontaneous generosity that followed Friday’s devastating fire at Quakers Hill nursing home.
Almost immediately after the unfathomable tragedy occurred in the early hours of Friday morning, aged care providers of all types, from near and far, came forward with offers of anything that might be needed to support all members of the community affected directly by the fire.
By lunchtime, all of those needs were more than met as the sector pulled together to stand behind some of their own, and help them get through such a difficult time.
Chief executive of Aged Care Association Australia – NSW, Charles Wurf, praised the “spontaneous, overwhelmingly generous” wave of support, which he said came from providers based all over NSW, and even from interstate.
Illana Halliday, chief executive of the Aged and Community Services Association of NSW and the ACT, also applauded the “tidal wave of support”.
“Being new in the industry, I really have to congratulate the sector on the response,” Ms Halliday said.
“In the face of that tragedy, everyone pulled together to provide support for the home. Everyone just wanted to make sure those residents were taken care of, and that the staff were looked after as well.
“It was really good to see that kind of generosity come out of such a terrible event.”
The owner of the facility, Domain Principle Group, also moved quckly to offer support and condolences to staff from Quakers Hill at a specially convened question and answer session yesterday morning. Staff were encouraged to take time off if needed, and reassured that their employment would continue at the company’s many other facilities, according to a news report.
In an statement updated today on the company’s website, managing director Gary Barnier also expressed gratitude for the “overwhleming outpouring of community support” that had flowed in to help the stricken facility.
“We express our deepest sympathy to the families who lost a loved one yesterday. Our thoughts remain with the residents still in hospital, and their families and friends,” Mr Barnier said.
“Our immediate focus is on ensuring the wellbeing of our residents, and providing the care and support they, and their families, need at this difficult time. All residents are being settled into permanent accommodation, most within the local area.”
A memorial service will be held in Quakers Hill tomorrow.
NSW Police confirmed this morning that the death toll from the fire now stands at nine, after a 96-year-old victim, Doris Becke, passed away from her injuries last night, and a 90-year-old woman, Neeltje Valkay, just after 9am this morning.
The 35-year-old registered nurse from the facility who allegedly lit the fires, Roger Dean, has been charged with multiple counts of murder and is expected to face court on Thursday, according to several news reports.