The department of Health has released new guidance checklists providers of home and community care as well as residential aged care to manage older peoples’ health during heatwaves.
Australia experiences high temperatures during the summer, making heatwaves a common occurrence. This poses significant risks, especially for older individuals living alone, without regular contact with others. A checklist has been provided to guide aged care service providers in meeting their responsibilities under the Aged Care Act 1997 and maintaining service quality during heatwaves.
Before a heatwave, providers are advised to identify at-risk care recipients, assess home cooling systems, and ensure they have appropriate support, including family and friends. Contact details should be shared with local emergency services as needed.
During a heatwave, providers should continue care services, potentially sourcing extra staff or volunteers. Care recipients are at heightened risk following high overnight temperatures, so precautions include closing curtains, providing fluids, encouraging frequent small meals, loose clothing, sunscreen, and avoiding outdoor activities between 11 am and 3 pm. Tepid showers and sponging can help, and signs of heat stress like nausea or skin changes should prompt clinical assessments.
Overall, this checklist emphasises proactive measures to safeguard older individuals during heatwaves, aligning with the Aged Care Act’s objectives and quality standards. Further information is available from state and territory health departments to enhance preparedness for extreme heat events in Australia.
The checklists can be found here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/caring-for-older-people-in-warmer-weather-residential-aged-care
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