Flood events and aged care preparedness
East Coast Flooding – being ready
2022 has already been disrupted by a number of flood events along the east coast, with further adverse weather predicted for the summer ahead.
Major flooding continues to impact New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania and is expected to continue 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.
On 10 October 2022, the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) released its long-range forecast for Australia's coming severe weather season including an increased risk of widespread flooding for eastern and northern Australia and an increased risk of an above average number of tropical cyclones and tropical lows.
Planning and preparedness for emergency events is of critical importance across the aged care sector to reduce the risk of their occurrence, and enables providers to respond quickly and decisively when they arise.
Aged care providers in flood, fire or cyclone prone areas should review and stress test plans to ensure they are contemporary and align with the potential threats that may lay in the weeks and months ahead.
Aged care providers should be informed and ready to act in all situations of emergency. It is important that aged care providers are prepared for, and ready to respond to, potential impacts on their services.
Being prepared enables you to enact effective responses while continuing to provide quality aged care services to vulnerable older Australians
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's website.
Provider Obligations – be risk ready
The Aged Care Quality Standards require providers to demonstrate they have an effective risk management system and practices in place that 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 include welfare checks via phone. These welfare checks 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 where your staff are unable to attend.
Know your warnings - keep informed and up to date
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:
- Latest National Warnings Summaries - be sure to enable notifications for your location through the BOM Weather app.
- Latest advice on NSW State emergency notifications and warnings.
- Latest advice on Victoria State emergency notifications and warnings or app.
- Latest advice on Tasmania State emergency notifications and warnings.
If the need arises – connect with your State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500 in the first instance. In an emergency, call 000.
Webinar: High risk weather season preparedness briefing
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), in partnership with the Department of Health and Aged Care and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, is hosting an important briefing on the seasonal outlook, risks, and preparedness relevant to residential aged care homes and flexible aged care services.
The webinar will be held on Friday 28 October 2022 from 1:00pm – 3:00pm AEDT.
This briefing will provide you with advice on the risks and preparedness for the high-risk weather season, including:
- Seasonal weather outlook from the Bureau of Meteorology
- Updates from the National Emergency Management Agency, Department of Health and Aged Care and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission
- Advice on how the aged care sector can assist and connect to the Australian Government during the high-risk weather season
- A short crisis scenario run-through and discussion.
How to Join
The webinar will be held via MS Teams. If you are interested, please record the date and time in your calendar.