Service continuity and emergency events in aged care
Preparing for emergencies can help lessen their effect and impact on your ability to provide a service. Emergency planning is also a requirement for aged care providers. Read about how to prepare for and handle emergency events in aged care settings.
Continuing services during an emergency event
During an emergency, providers must continue to maintain quality care and services to care recipients.
This is a requirement under the Aged Care Act 1997, or your grant or aged care funding agreement.
What to do in an emergency
In an emergency, call 000 or the local emergency services.
Contact your state or territory Department of Health office if:
- you need to evacuate or relocate residential aged care residents and need help to find other accommodation
- your service cannot meet its obligations under its grant or aged care funding agreement
Aged care state and territory emergency contacts
Aged care service providers can call the Australian Government Department of Health in their state or territory if they need help to find vacancies or resources to manage an emergency. These numbers are monitored at all times.
Preparing for emergencies
In aged care, the risk of emergencies is heightened. Extreme weather conditions in some parts of Australia, like heat and the threat of bushfires, can increase the risk further.
In high-risk seasons, aged care services and facilities are more likely to experience:
- staff shortages
- power and system failures
- restricted access to essential supplies
Funding agreements and grants often require you to have an emergency management plan in place.
Local government authorities may also require you to assess risks and report to them on threat levels.
Communicating with relevant agencies in your area and taking part in emergency management forums and groups can also help your preparation.
These resources are for people working in residential aged care, home care and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. The checklists of activities aid aged care service delivery during emergency events.
On 14 December 2021, Emergency Management Australia (EMA), the Department of Health (the Department) and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (the Commission) hosted a high-risk weather season briefing for the aged care sector. This briefing contained the long term weather forecast and high level information about the roles and responsibilities of service providers, the Department, Commission and EMA.
High-risk weather season presentation – Aged Care December 2021
This presentation sets out information from the Bureau of Meteorology, EMA and the Department. The information is intended to raise awareness for the likely impacts of the 2021-22 high-risk weather season, remind approved providers of critical aspects of their emergency management plan that they may need to consider and how the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework and National Incident Centre works.
Preparing for extreme heat
Extreme heat is a high-risk time for emergencies in aged care settings.
You can check for heatwave information in your area with the Heatwave Service for Australia.
These resources are for providers of residential aged care, home care and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme. They are checklists to help people working in aged care to prepare for and manage services during a heatwave.
Who is responsible during an emergency?
Your emergency management plan should clearly identify staff roles before, during and after an emergency. It should also let you know what to do and how to find resources.
Providers are responsible for costs of planning for and during an emergency, including all relocation costs.
Volunteers without police checks can assist, as long as they are reasonably supervised.
Costs during and after an emergency
Where care recipients are relocated, the Government will continue to pay subsidies to the provider responsible for their ongoing care and the responsible provider will continue to collect the resident's aged care fees. It is the relocating provider's responsibility to arrange to reimburse the receiving facility's incurred costs.
This fact sheet is for residential aged care providers. It covers how funding works and what providers should do when temporarily relocating residents in an emergency situation.
You may use Home Care Package funding to cover the transportation and/or accommodation costs in emergencies where it would ensure continuity of care for the care recipients.
The Australian and/or State or Territory Government may make emergency funding available following extraordinary events.