Repeated Flood Trauma – A Carer’s Brave Account.

March 9, 2022

The myHomecare Group was featured in the Aged Care news article ‘Surviving repeated flood trauma – carer’s brave account.’

This article highlights The myHomecare Group’s quick response and care for their client being relocated after the flood.

For a summary of the article please read on. 

On the evening of Saturday, February 26, Queensland’s Brisbane River flooded causing repeated flood trauma for many.

The flood resulted in many homes and businesses being submerged and caked with sediment.

Tanya Kimber and her 89-year-old mother, Patricia, evacuated to Pat’s son’s house, during the deluge.

Tanya, who takes care of her mother, says older people and their carers are particularly stressed.

“As we were evacuating, I was trying to look after my mum who’s got no short-term memory,” she says.

While Tanya, tried to maintain a steely resolve, repeated exposure to the catastrophe presented many psychological challenges.

A History of Flood Trauma Repeated.

“Because we got flooded 11 years ago, the trauma’s coming back, and the anxiety is going through the roof.”

Pat Kimber receives level-four care through a government-subsided Home Care Package, providing care and supervision while Tanya is at work.

Boarding at Pat’s son’s house provided a host of issues that came with relocating.

“My mum is frail and not very mobile, so we have been living in my brother’s house, which is completely unsuitable,” Tanya says.

“She can’t get into the shower. She says it’s hard for her to use the toilet, stairs, everything.”

Sapphire Livings’ General Manager for The myHomecare Group Michelle Leonard says that after sending a team to assess Pat’s new living environment, care was started as soon as possible.

“These floods have had a devastating effect on our elderly, as they rely on our services,” she says.

Mental Health Support.

However, Leonard believes providers should pay attention to their older client’s mental health.

“Some of these people were also affected by the 2011 and 2017 floods, and they’re still fresh in their minds. So, the aftermath is all about making sure that mentally, they’re OK.”

Providing social and mental health support is part of the aged care provider’s duty of care, according to Leonard.

Pat may not always comprehend the present crisis, but she remembers previous floods – and she has literal scars, too.

Wading through muddy floodwater in 2011, a small scrape on Pat’s leg was compromised, infection fiercely advancing across her delicate, mature skin.

For Tanya, the toll has been primarily psychological; her home was rebuilt and belongings replaced, but this latest flood has just reignited a trauma barely resolved since the last.

“For me, if I see a car that’s the same color as the flood mud from 2011, I just start getting queasy – and people drive these coloured cars all the time.”

“My mum has PTSD, and I didn’t recognise what it was,” Tanya recalls.  

PTSD and adjustment disorders are more common in older adults, according to a Cambridge University meta-analysis from 2015.

“There’s no system for catching that,” Tanya says, of the psychological trauma her family sustained after the first flood.

“I’m telling people who’ve been flooded for the first time, you need to find a psychologist and start talking to them now.”

Prevention Should Be Prioritised.

However, Tanya hopes in the future, that repeated flood trauma will be avoided if the correct steps are put in place.

“We need the army to come in when floods are coming and get people out beforehand. They need to change the system around and be pre-emptive.”

If you would like to read this story in full, click here. 

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