Meals on Wheels NSW has launched a free toolkit designed in partnership with key emergency services to help home care providers support vulnerable older people through emergencies.

Audrey, aged 88 is helped by Carolyn, a Meals on Wheels volunteer, to check her smoke alarms.

The idea for the resource originally came in response to disproportionate number of socially isolated older people dying in house fires.

But following the recent devastating bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic it’s been broadened to an “all hazards” approach encompassing fires, storms heatwaves and floods.

The ACT! A Collaborative Toolkit: preparing older people for emergencies toolkit provides step-by-step guidance on discussing emergency preparedness with clients; downloadable leave-behind fact sheets and checklists; and online training for staff and volunteers.

It ultimately aims to equip older people to prepare for and make decisions in an emergency, Meals on Wheels Project Officer Louise Sutcliffe says.

“It was developed to assist home support providers to empower older people to make decisions about preparing for emergencies,” she says.

“It builds on older people’s knowledge of local risks, initiating and supporting individual discussions around what they can do to prepare, providing concise, practical information and linking in appropriate supports when required.”

 It focuses on five Get Ready messages :

  • Know your risk
  • Plan ahead
  • Get your home ready
  • Be aware
  • Look out for each other

The release of the toolkit on Wednesday comes after pilots in six sites across NSW.

It was developed in partnership  organisations including the SES,  the Rural Fire Fire Serve, Fire and Rescue NSW, the Red Cross, University of Sydney, City of Sydney Council and NSW Health.

It’s available for free here.

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