“It can be very confusing, and many customers are left shaken. We’re here to support our customers during this stressful time and through their recovery journey.”—Elizabeth Albury, Regional Manager for Northern NSW/QLD.
- Many of our Home Care Service branches were affected by the floods, with a large number of people losing their homes and possessions.
- Home Care staff checked on the welfare of everyone in the flooded areas and offered flexibility in services to accommodate customers’ needs.
- Australian Unity Home Care customers affected by floods are encouraged to reach out to their local disaster relief support teams.
Living and working within the communities we care for means our Home Care Service team members have a personal perspective on how to rally together to support customers, each other, and their local community.
Many of our Home Care Service branches were affected by the floods, with a significant number of customers, employees and their families sadly losing their homes and possessions.
“The devastation has been widespread,” says Elizabeth Albury, Regional Manager for Northern NSW/QLD.
“Floods are not uncommon in this part of Australia, but the extent of these 2022 floods is on a whole new level. The Northern Rivers region we support received an astonishing 40 inches of rain,” she says.
“Many customers were isolated, and some of our team members were cut off both physically, with roads being closed and no petrol available, and socially, with no power or ability to contact family or friends. And those with mobile phones had to use them sparingly, as there wasn’t a way to charge them. It’s been very emotional and incredibly trying,” Elizabeth says.
Throughout the flooding, the team had ongoing contact with customers and their families and, where possible, made alternative servicing arrangements to support them, such as providing home care services at a different location.
“We took it day by day, checking on the welfare of everyone in the flooded areas and offering flexibility in services to accommodate customers’ needs and the safety of our team members. Our team had to be agile in their approach, as the situation was changing so fast. We had to make decisions at speed.”
Sadly, some elderly customers had to leave home quickly and had no time to take items like scooters and mobility equipment. Using our customer database, we were able to prioritise, identify and contact these customers to arrange the urgent and necessary support.
“We knew we had to locate one of our more vulnerable customers quickly who had been evacuated from their home. This person had been taken from their home to a relief centre in the area, but we were unsure which one.
“A staff member visited centre after centre and eventually found our customer, who was alone, quite upset and confused. From here we contacted the customer’s family and were able to arrange daily respite support, while the customer was in the relief centre,” Elizabeth says.
Elizabeth says that an experience like being evacuated from your home and leaving behind your possessions can be a particularly traumatic experience for older people.
“It can be very confusing, and many customers are left shaken. We’re here to support our customers during this stressful time and through their recovery journey.”
As the floods began to dissipate, the true impact of the damaging water and constant dampness became evident.
“Mud was everywhere and over everything,” says Ramona Kleipas, Regional General Manager for Central South NSW.
“Customers returning to their homes, even those without much damage—needed clean up services to help their homes become safe and healthy again.”
With the warm, humid weather, mould has become a very significant issue.
“Mould can penetrate many surfaces and the spores can be dangerous, especially to our customers suffering from chest or lung issues,” Ramona explains. “And mould can be very difficult to remove.
“We were able to bring together external suppliers and partners to offer expert services including the removal of mould permanently and safely.”
Australian Unity Home Care customers affected by floods are encouraged to reach out to their local disaster relief support teams or head online to understand what support is available.
Disclaimer: Information provided in this article is of a general nature. Australian Unity accepts no responsibility for the accuracy of any of the opinions, advice, representations or information contained in this publication. Readers should rely on their own advice and enquiries in making decisions affecting their own health, wellbeing or interest. Interviewee titles and employer are cited as at the time of interview and may have changed since publication.