Summer of distress

The summer has started with high temperatures, followed by torrential coastal rainfall and a resurgence of COVID-19 in NSW.

Two adults have a chat

Many communities are still recovering from last summer’s bushfires, the impact of COVID-19 and now face the clean-up after the La Niña flooding.

Regardless of its source, businesses, individuals and communities are feeling in a state of stress, or distress.

Hardest hit

Those who may feel it worst are people living with disability, their families, carers and friends.

Research tells us that children and older people feel more vulnerable when they are separated from their familiar support people; the same would be true for people who are chronically ill or living with a disability, like many of the people icare supports through its schemes and programs.

Deborah Hoffman, General Manager, Care Services at icare, is aware of the distress caused to many Care participants following the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We provided additional support and resources to a number of our participants whose towns and regions were ravaged by the fires last summer," says Deborah.

"We also had to review many of our practices, moving towards more telehealth services with the onset of COVID-19."

"What these crises highlight for us is the need for better planning and preparation so that we can reduce potential risks facing our participants during any emergency situation."

One of the telehealth initiatives was the provision of iPads to its shared houses early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

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"We fund support in six shared houses for people who are highly vulnerable and have complex health needs requiring maximum support," Deborah explains.

"The iPads allowed residents to maintain access to their medical and therapy appointments via telehealth. For example, in one house a telehealth conference was facilitated with the treating occupational therapist, physiotherapist and participant."

Crisis management resources

icare has a range of resources for employers and their workers on our Crisis support page as well as contact details of relevant organisations. It includes a section for people living with disability, with links to many resources to assist and empower them to prepare individualised emergency-ready plans.

The Black Dog Institute has introduced the Bush Fire Support Service (BFSS) to connect first responders with a range of evidence-based support options to manage and maintain their wellbeing into the future, following the devastation of last bushfire season.

Even though bushfires may seem less of a threat to coastal NSW this season, the Rural Fire Service has produced resources on its website to help families, businesses and communities prepare for fires.

icare resources include:

  • support in your community: Community resources fact sheet (PDF, 0.5MB), a list of service directories, mental health support services and financial counsellors
  • fact sheets for employers, employees and the wider community following bushfires and floods
  • a set of links for people living with disability
  • links to useful government and non-government websites.

Crisis support

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