Be prepared for flood and weather emergencies

All aged care providers should be prepared to implement their emergency plans to respond to flood or weather emergencies.

Date published:
Subscriber announcement
Health sector

Providers are required to continue to deliver appropriate care in accordance with their emergency risk management plan, and their relevant aged care program, and provide regular advice to staff, family and care recipients. Resident and care recipient safety must be prioritised at all times.

To make sure appropriate support is provided as quickly as possible, all aged care providers (residential aged care facilities (RACFs) and in‑home and community aged care providers) must follow existing state and local government pathways to request help:

  • In Queensland:
    • Request assistance through your Local Council which will have a Local Disaster Management Plan and link you to the Local Disaster Management Group (LDMG) supports.
    • Local Councils and LDMGs are best place to support you for a range of needs, including food, clean up and evacuation. Your Local Council will escalate any issues that require support beyond local assistance.
  • In New South Wales:
    • Liaise with local emergency services via Triple Zero (000) to determine the seriousness of any emergency situation and the level of risk posed to your facility and care recipients.
    • Emergency services will then link in at the Local Health District level to prioritise and deliver supports.
  • These arrangements are well developed. Requesting assistance through these channels will ensure requests can be prioritised as part of whole of government response efforts.

Residential aged care providers

  • Residential aged care providers should work with their staff to make sure they are familiar with how each service will respond to an emergency including:
    • Make sure all staff know who will lead a response to a flood or weather emergency on each shift
    • Make sure your leadership team is contactable after hours and on public holidays – consider an on-call roster.
    • Remind team leaders or shift supervisors about how to activate the emergency management plan including how to contact emergency services from state governments for help.
  • Providers can replenish their stock of PPE and RATs if it is destroyed during a flooding event:
    • PPE can be sourced utilising the online ordering form
    • RATs can be ordered through the existing pathway in situations of urgency
  • Residential aged care providers can apply for emergency approval to provide respite support for older Australians in community that could benefit from support in a residential aged care facility
    • Providers can contact the Department of Health on the number relevant to their state or territory.

In-home and community aged care providers

  • In-home and community aged care providers should have emergency plans in place for all care recipients:
    • Staff should be aware of these plans and be able to implement if regular staff or care recipients are impacted by the emergency
    • Plans should be implemented if either staff are unavailable to provide services or the care recipient is impacted
    • Staff and care recipients should access emergency support provided by the state/local government and/or emergency services in the first instance i.e. help with flood clean up or emergency accommodation
    • In-home and community aged care providers must undertake welfare checks and remain in regular contact with their care recipients, where possible
    • Delivery of in-home and community services that are necessary for the health and safety of care recipients must continue where it is safe to do so. Where a HCP provider cannot continue to provide essential services to a care recipient, they should support the affected care recipient to receive services from another provider willing and able to provide these services, or to a higher needs care setting such as a residential aged care facility or hospital
    • CHSP providers are reminded to contact their Funding Arrangement Manager about any major disruptions to normal service delivery at their earliest opportunity
    • CHSP providers can use their 100 per cent flexibility to urgently re-distribute funding to cover any additional service costs. CHSP providers can also apply for emergency funding under the CHSP Ad Hoc Proposals (GO4264) grant funding opportunity as a response to an unforeseen and exceptional circumstance. Applications are open until 30 June 2022
  • In-home and community aged providers should support the care recipient to liaise with services to provide support including:
    • My Aged Care to access support services such as meal providers
    • Services Australia on eligibility requirements to access disaster recovery payments (payment may be accessed due to major damage to the home).

All aged care providers

  • All aged care providers should review their workforce management plan so you have options for sourcing surge workforce if you need it:
    • Plan for staff being unable to attend work due to road closures. Consider other roles for staff unable to attend including providing updates to families
    • Remember you may need to replace all types of staff: personal care workers, and cooking and cleaning staff to administration and management staff
    • Make sure you have a plan on how to orientate surge workforce and who will supervise these staff
    • Think about options for fatigue management including for staff who are trapped due to road closures. If needed, provide facilities for staff to sleep and take breaks.

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:

  • Victoria / Tasmania 1800 078 709
  • New South Wales / Australian Capital Territory 1800 852 649
  • South Australia 1800 288 475
  • Queensland 1800 300 125
  • Western Australia 1800 733 923
  • Northern Territory 1800 355 348