NSCA Foundation

Researchers release aged-care disaster preparedness toolkit

Wednesday, 30 September, 2020

Researchers release aged-care disaster preparedness toolkit

A toolkit released by Flinders University’s Torrens Resilience Institute (TRI) has been developed to help aged-care providers ensure they are prepared for fires, floods and other emergencies. The ‘Assessing Disaster Resilience for Aged Care Facilities’ toolkit is the culmination of a two-year project to create a unique resource for aged-care providers to assess their ability to sustain operations, adapt and be self-reliant in the face of adversity. It includes a scorecard that measures the four components of resilience, together with practice scenarios for use in training exercises.


TRI Director Paul Arbon stated that the toolkit was developed in response to the lack of a readily available disaster resilience resource for this sector. Arbon said aged-care providers must be particularly diligent given the vulnerability of their populations and the associated challenges, noting that the toolkit is tailored to their specific needs. “Disruptive events are inevitable and organisations that are well prepared are better able to deal with them, then get back to normal operations as seamlessly as possible — minimising their consequences,” Arbon said.

Twelve facilities in South Australia completed the scorecard during its testing, with staff and managers who participated reporting that the process helped them think more broadly and consider a range of critical aspects such as accountability. “Completing the exercise is more important than the actual score,” Arbon said. “The process brings teams together to build understanding, connect and agree on priorities, and this forms the foundation of resilience.”

Provider testing

South Australian aged-care provider Resthaven has worked with TRI on earlier research and was involved in testing the scorecard. Resthaven CEO Darren Birbeck said Resthaven commenced its involvement in the testing of the resilience scorecard in 2017, with the ‘Earthquake and Flood Resilience Scorecard’. A risk was identified at the Resthaven Leabrook residential site during the completion of the scorecard, which workers were able to action.

“The process not only helped to raise discussions around preparedness activities and understanding of the risks that could impact our residential aged-care homes. It also facilitated the education and sharing of information relating to the sites and identified gaps in engagement with site teams,” Birbeck said.

In 2018, Resthaven also participated in the improvement of the scorecard to become an all-hazard scorecard, including bushfire risk, with generators installed at all Resthaven residential homes and in head office. “The scorecard benefited Resthaven by identifying risks, and analysing systems and processes in place to support the continuity of service in the event of an unforeseen disaster,” Birbeck said.

TRI is dedicated to disaster preparedness and management, and to guiding government policy, preparing communities and helping people minimise the impacts of potential emergencies. This project was conducted with support from Aged and Community Services Australia. The toolkit, along with other TRI resources, is available here.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/InsideCreativeHouse

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