Advice for providers
With the catastrophic bush fires in New South Wales and Queensland, The Department of Health has issued advice for providers, summarised below.
Providers are advised to be prepared so they are well-placed to ensure the safety of people in their care and their staff. There are a number of steps you can take to make sure you’re ready for emergency situations.
- Monitor local media and regularly check for updates from your state’s rural fire service (links below)
- Make sure you have an updated daily list of all residents who are on site
Risk management - Department of Health contacts for emergency events
- If you think evacuation is a possibility, prepare ‘go bags’ for residents, with a change of clothes and essential medications or emergency aids
- Ensure you have an evacuation plan, with arrangements for transportation and alternative accommodation in place. Talk to other service providers to identify potential alternative accommodation
- If evacuation is required, it should be done early. Do not rely on emergency services to assist, as this may not be possible
Fires are unpredictable, and can threaten suddenly and without warning. A Fire Danger Rating of SEVERE and above means fires are likely to be uncontrollable. When fires are deemed SEVERE or above, providers should take warnings seriously and be prepared to act.
- Queensland Rural Fire Service
- New South Wales rural Fire Service
- Residential Care Service - Preparing for an Emergency Event
- Home Care Service – Preparing for an Emergency Event
- Commonwealth Home Support Program Service – Preparing for an Emergency Event
Advice for consumers
There are geographical areas impacted by the current bushfire emergency in several states. Information provided through the your state's rural fire service or the ABC will assist you to stay across the changing situation for aged care services that may be affected.
The priority for services in fire affected areas is to ensure the safety, health and well-being of their consumers and staff. For some services this means putting into practice their emergency management plans. This can include needing to evacuate all or part of their facilities (for residential services), and dealing with experiencing temporary staff shortages, power failures or failure of electronic systems, or restricted access to essential supplies.
Maintaining quality of care under these circumstances involves effective emergency risk management and planning, and forms part of a provider’s responsibilities under the Aged Care Quality Standards. Providers are expected to take all reasonable steps to continue to deliver services as far as possible during an emergency event and to recommence full service delivery as soon as possible after the event.
Communication with aged care consumers and their representatives is very important so find out how the aged care service will keep you informed in your community.
If you have concerns about the quality of care and services you or someone else is receiving, you can contact the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission by telephone on 1800 951 822 (free call).
If the matter is an emergency you need to contact emergency services on 000.