Risk management for emergency events in aged care

During an emergency, providers are required under the Aged Care Act 1997 or their grant or aged care funding agreement to continue to maintain quality care and services to care recipients.

 

By the Federal Department of Heath.

 

Providers of Residential, Home Care and Commonwealth Home Support are required to have plans in place for the management of emergency events.

 

Contacts

In an emergency, please call 000 or the local emergency services.

 

If an evacuation is necessary, and assistance is required to identify accommodation options for relocating or evacuating residential aged care residents, or the service is unable to meet obligations under its grant or aged care funding agreement, please advise the department as soon as possible.

 

The department can be contacted on the following numbers:

  • Victoria – 1800 078 709
  • New South Wales/ACT – 1800 852 649
  • South Australia – 1800 288 475
  • Tasmania – 1800 108 196
  • Queensland – 1800 300 125
  • Western Australia – 1800 733 923
  • Northern Territory – 1800 355 348

 

Emergency Planning

Australia’s seasonal variability means that it is subject to major weather events including bushfires.

 

Aged care services and service providers need to be well prepared and able to respond to a range of emergency events that may impact delivery of care.

 

High risk seasons may result in providers needing to evacuate all or part of their facilities, experiencing 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 its quality standards.

 

Risk management plans and procedures should be tailored to the location and circumstances of the service, and be developed and regularly revised in consultation with local health and emergency services.

 

Consideration of state and territory health and emergency management agencies planning information may assist to inform risk management plans and procedures.

 

In the event of an evacuation of a residential aged care service, the risk management plan should include identifying alternative accommodation options. Where identified alternative accommodation options are also affected by the emergency the Department can assist providers to identify aged care services or other facilities.

 

Key elements of risk management plans and procedures should be tested through practical exercises, to make sure the plan works as intended, staff know their roles, identified resources are serviceable and available and care recipients are assured that in an emergency their safety and care is a priority.

 

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.

 

Local emergency authorities

State and territory governments have primary responsibility for emergency management and local governments have an important role in planning, preparedness, response and recovery. Providers must assess risk and respond to the advice of local emergency management authorities in regards to threat levels.

 

It is important that provider’s engage and maintain communication with relevant agencies in their services area and participate in any emergency management forums for community groups.

 

Funding during and after an emergency

Providers are responsible for meeting the care needs of their care recipients including the provision of appropriate and safe accommodation. Providers will not receive additional aged care funding for costs incurred preparing for or during an emergency. Emergency response funding may be made available by Commonwealth and/or State and Territory government following extraordinary events.

 

The cost of relocating or evacuating care recipients should be anticipated in emergency planning. Where care recipients are relocated, subsidies will continue to be paid to the provider responsible for the ongoing care of the care recipients. It is the responsibility of the relocating provider to make arrangements to reimburse costs incurred by the receiving facility.

 

Home care package funding may be used to cover the transportation and/or accommodation costs in emergencies where it would ensure continuity of care for the care recipients.

 

Volunteers

In an emergency event, people without police checks who volunteer can provide assistance, as long as they are supervised to the extent reasonable in the circumstances.

 

Resources

 

Courtesy Federal Department of Health - https://agedcare.health.gov.au/publications-and-articles/guides-advice-and-policies/risk-management-for-emergency-events-in-aged-care

 

30 October 2017.