Nov 18, 2022

Aged care residents without power for 5 days due to storm damage

Aged care residents without power for 5 days due to storm damage

Residents at a South Australian aged care facility have gone five days without mains electricity after storms wreaked havoc across the State last Saturday.

Estia Health Aldgate, located in the Adelaide Hills, was among the 163,000 homes and businesses affected by 310 reported power outages and almost 500 reported cases of damaged powerlines and wires down. 

SA Power Networks, the State’s electricity distributor, said 423,000 lightning strikes were recorded during the storms and the wind speed peaked at 106 kilometres per hour.

This has stretched their resources to the brink with over a dozen unplanned outages still receiving attention today.

As a result of the Saturday outage, Estia Health Aldgate turned to backup generators “to meet residents’ needs when required”, a spokesperson for the aged care provider told ABC News.

“Our residents have access to hot water, hot meals, mobile phone charging, supplementary oxygen, electric bed adjustments etc as per normal,” said the spokesperson.

“Back-up lighting is in all rooms including bathrooms.”

SA Power Networks said that electricity was restored to the facility on Thursday afternoon and there are no active power outages listed in Aldgate today.

Family members unhappy about the response

Although Estia Health Aldgate brought in a second generator to ensure residents had electricity and hot water, concerned family members said the response had been too slow.

Janene Overton, the daughter of 89-year-old resident Maureen Parsons, said her mother had her vital oxygen supply interrupted due to the facility’s reduced power capacity.

“The staff are fantastic, they are just wonderful. But really this is a very difficult situation someone should have looked at much, much earlier,” Ms Overton told the ABC.

“Especially for my mum, she’s on oxygen, it means there’s no way she can use any of the oxygen machines, so what they’re using now is huge tanks.

“Those tanks can only last for so long.”

Ms Overton shared her concerns over a lack of entertainment and movement as there had been no television or communication on how residents were being supported.

Hema Patankar had hoped to see the aged care facility prioritised more by repair crews, but thanked staff for looking after her 98-year-old mother, Betty.

“The staff definitely have a difficult situation, one would hope there would be more priority for an aged care home,” said Ms Patankar.

“I’ve been surprised that it’s been four or five days now. Until yesterday, they didn’t have hot water for showers.”

Paul Roberts, a spokesman for SA Power Networks, said it has been a challenge to prioritise all of those in need due to the scale of the damage caused by the storms.

“This aged care centre was affected by an outage caused by damage to both high and low voltage lines that supply the home and other customers in the area,” said Mr Roberts.

“Given the volume of requests we receive, we escalate restoration for critical infrastructure and emergency situations but we simply can’t prioritise everyone who wants to be prioritised amidst such a massive event where 163,000 residential, business and other facilities are affected.

“We continue to encourage facilities such as aged care homes to assess their specific circumstances and have back up plans in place for extended outages.”

Harsh weather conditions have threatened aged care facilities across the country, with storms and flooding causing considerable damage.

Providers such as the Rochester & Elmore District Health Service (REDHS) aged care and hospital facility had to evacuate their whole facility when floods struck Victoria in mid to late October.

Estia Health Aldgate was contacted but declined to comment further on the outages.

Has your facility been affected by storms or flooding? Let us know how your facility responded in the comments below. 

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