Heavy rainfall and substantial flooding events are expected to continue across New South Wales over the coming days. This may present further challenges for aged care services, such as evacuations, staff shortages and reduced capacity to visit vulnerable care recipients in the community.
It is important that aged care providers are prepared for, and ready to respond to, potential impacts on their services. It is important to remain vigilant, even if an initial threat has passed. Continuing rainfall may result in renewed flooding in some areas.
Information on preparing for, and responding to, an emergency is set out on the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website.
The Aged Care Quality Standards require providers to demonstrate they have an effective risk management system and practices in place that they can be activated during times of crisis, to ensure they can appropriately manage high-impact risks associated with the care of consumers (Standard 3 and Standard 8).
A slow or ineffective response to an emergency event by a provider places both older people and staff at increased risk of harm.
In preparation for and in response to a flood event, providers are expected to:
- respond to staff shortages where staff are unable to travel to and from work due to floods or other personal circumstances
- undertake appropriate assessment and care planning and establish interim arrangements for continuity of care and access to services (with a focus on those at highest risk)
- plan for critical infrastructure issues including power failures
- identify, support and monitor situations where older people have been and continue to be impacted by the floods
- adapt service delivery to accommodate restricted access to essential supply chains.
Providers in flood-affected areas should have activated their risk management systems already and it expected that you are actively monitoring the safety and wellbeing of consumers.
For home service providers, additional activities including welfare checks via phone, could alert you to a situation which requires immediate action, including possible referral to an emergency responder. It is expected that all efforts are made to address any issues identified through this outreach, including working with another provider to deliver care or services.
Keeping up to date on what is happening
There are a number of sources of information that can assist in making decisions during these events. Understanding what is happening and ensuing emergency management plans are activated or ready to be activated make a significant difference to your capacity to respond.
Please note, flood warning and evacuation orders will be regularly updated as weather and flood forecasts evolve.
Relevant information can be found at:
- Current NSW SES Community advice
- The latest weather warnings
- Public Health messaging regarding flood safety and support communications toolkit available
- Mental Health recovery resources.
If the need arises, connect with the New South Wales State Emergency Service on 132 500 in the first instance.
In an emergency, call 000.