Dedicated teamwork key to seamless fire evacuation of WA aged care home

bushfires
(L to R) Ash Tiwade, Nurse Practitioner, and Sandy Shaw, Residential Care Manager at Wanneroo Community Nursing Home. [Source: Supplied]

A West Australian aged care team has received national recognition for its lifesaving teamwork while evacuating residents during the Wanneroo bushfires, which destroyed 18 nearby homes. 

The stunning success of the fire evacuation of the Elderbloom Community Care Centres, in Wanneroo, north of Perth, is testament to the power of preparedness, teamwork and community spirit. 

On November 22, after tracking bushfires from 2:00 am, centre management started evacuating two homes from their three facilities and 197 independent living units. 

In a mammoth operation, 50 residents were collected by family members to be cared for at home, 56 were transferred to Perth’s Edith Cowan University School of Nursing and four were transferred by ambulance to nearby hospitals. The enormous task was completed in under 24 hours.

Sandy Shaw, residential care manager, Wanneroo Community Nursing Home said, “I already knew that I had amazing staff, some very young and some older. What stood out to me the most was the absolute dedication that the whole team displayed in supporting the residents and each other … some staff phoned to come in and volunteer, everybody wanted to help!” 

The Elderbloom team’s effort to go above and beyond to keep residents safe and happy during the evacuation and emergency has seen the entire team acknowledged in the Aged and Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA) “You Are ACE!” campaign, which recognises excellence across residential aged care, home and community care, retirement living and seniors housing. 

ACCPA CEO Tom Symondson said, “Ensuring the safety and well-being of residents in aged care homes is paramount, especially over our summer holidays when bush fires, cyclones, storms and floods can be expected.” 

“ACCPA congratulates the Elderbloom Community Care Centres’ teams on their response to this emergency. It is wonderful to be able to recognise the excellent teamwork that’s being done every day across the aged and community care sector to ensure older people are getting the very best of care.” 

“The nursing home staff worked tirelessly. Thankfully with most of our residents evacuated to ECU, it made it so much easier on our staff and residents,” Ms Shaw said. “I cannot stress enough just how important it is to have the evacuation box and continuous hand over sheets up to date – this was a massive time saver,” she added.

Suzy Tillotson, residential care manager, Jacaranda Lodge said, “We are extremely grateful to our family members who selflessly came to take loved ones home, easing the burden prior to and during the whole evacuation. 

ACCPA provides resources to assist aged care facilities in developing comprehensive emergency  management plans. These plans are essential for addressing a range of potential crises, including  natural disasters and other emergencies that may arise.  

For state specific information regarding planning for natural disasters and other emergencies, visit the ACCPA website https://www.accpa.asn.au/ .

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  1. Dear Sandy and Ash,

    Thank you (and all your lovely staff), for your exemplary handling of the recent evacuation.
    You were, without exception, professional, practical, calm and caring. You let us know what was happening every step of the way, and what was expected of us. I was so impressed and grateful, thank you.

  2. Well done for your incredibly efficient evacuation of the home.
    I join with everyone saying “Well done–You are definitely ACE!!”

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