The extreme bushfire situation across Australia this summer is a stark reminder of the need to be prepared for unexpected disasters.
Resthaven Executive Manager Finance and Technology, David Norton, says, ‘Older people, having a lifetime of experience in coping with all sorts of situations such as extreme heat and loss of power, are generally surprisingly resilient.
‘However, they can be more vulnerable than the general population, and the loss of power can be extremely detrimental for some.’
‘When South Australia lost power in the state-wide blackout of September 2016, all of Resthaven’s aged care homes continued to provide care for our residents, and our disaster management procedures served us very well.
‘However, we were confronted by the risks of prolonged power outages such as this unique state-wide black out. The experience led us to plan to prevent future occurrences of power outages to ensure the safety and security of our residents and staff.
‘Generators ensure that critical equipment, air conditioning, food services, communications, lighting, and other essential items continue to function during power disruptions.’
‘This is why Resthaven installed generators at all twelve residential care homes and Head Office during 2017–18. The generators have minimised disruption across the organisation since then.
‘From this first-hand experience, Resthaven and the Torrens Resilience Institute have developed a free resource to inform and empower aged care providers in selecting generators, the Guidance for the Selection of Generators for Aged Care Homes’. This resource outlines how to address any identified gaps and implement improvements to help build resilience against disruption of power supplies.
Funded by the State Government of South Australia and the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs through the Natural Disaster Resilience Program (NDRP), the guide was informed by the processes Resthaven went through when selecting generators.
‘It includes a guide to costs, timeframes, procurement strategies, and how to select a generator that is right for a particular home.’
Professor Paul Arbon, Director of the Torrens Resilience Institute at Flinders University says, ‘The Torrens Resilience Institute was delighted to work with Resthaven on this project.
‘As an Institute, our aim is to assist communities to build resilience to disruptive events, and we hope this guide enables the residential aged care sector and, in particular, residential aged care homes, to build resilience against power outages, and provide basic guidance and considerations when selecting appropriate power generators for homes.
‘We are also currently working on another National Disaster Resilience Program project to create an all hazards toolkit for the aged care sector to assess their resilience for flood, bushfire and earthquake hazards.’