Invaluable research on vulnerable people released

Tuesday August 2, 2011

The first part of independent research into what services supporting vulnerable people have learned from the September and February earthquakes was announced yesterday.

Canterbury District Health Board provided funding for Eldernet to commission Dr Sue Carswell to conduct and compile the research.

About 100 people including, aged residential care providers, carer workers and other stakeholders gathered to listen to Dr Carswell’s findings at a presentation held in Spreydon.

The research highlights what worked well in terms of emergency response to the earthquakes and the immediate and ongoing challenges facing Aged Residential Care facilities and residents

Dr Carswell says the next stage of the research will be talking to residents about what have been the most helpful things for them and to see how other organisations, volunteers and suppliers assisted the aged care sector.

Esther Perriam, Operations Manager of Eldernet and Care Publications, says this work will help Canterbury providers as well as those outside the region on how they could best prepare themselves should the same happen to them.

Stella Ward, Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) executive director of Allied Health, says some things were done remarkably well but there are other things the health sector has learned to do better from this experience.

“Overall the response was outstanding and the Canterbury Health System can be proud it has become world leaders in emergency crisis management.”

Michelle Mitchell, Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, community wellbeing manager says the research shows the importance of a coordinated response and the assistance of others.

“The challenge now is how we continue to keep community connections alive and well and build confidence and resilience.”

Dr Sue Carswell’s key findings:

  • +600 elderly lost their place to live

  • Community links (volunteers, suppliers, civil defence...) were essential to provide solutions for all the difficulties that facilities and home helpers had to face

  • A preventive contingency plan needs to be in place for all facilities to be self-sufficient for at least seven-10 days (loss of power, water and communication systems were the bigger obstacles). 

  • Essential to prevent information loss too (medication, family contact details, patient info)

  • Staff put themselves after the residents - they are the heroes in this story (together with volunteers)

  • Alliances between different suppliers proved invaluable in case of evacuations and/or logistic support

  • The main aim of this report is to bring awareness and serve as a guide for all New Zealand's facilities and professionals within the elderly sector, to be prepared and self-sufficient in case of any earthquake striking.​

Page last reviewed: 14 February 2014