Resthaven evacuation goes according to plan

By PSS | Posted: Thursday March 26, 2020

Rising river levels and inundating floodwaters sparked the overnight evacuation of residents from PSS’s Enliven Resthaven care home in Gore on February 5th - the execution of which went according to plan.

Enliven Resthaven Manager, Donna McEntyre said all 56 of the rest home’s residents were moved to alternative care homes as a "precautionary measure" in a planned evacuation declared by the Southern District Health Board. She said the call was made in response to severe weather conditions and widespread flooding that lead to Emergency Management evacuation orders being issued for large parts of Gore, Mataura and Wyndham.

"We were deemed as being more at risk (of flooding) because our care home is located in a low-lying area," said Donna.

“But we, as a residential rest home and as a community, have prepared and planned for this exact type of emergency situation and I’m thankful to say, everything went smoothly and according to plan.”

Which turned out to be no small thing given Donna was in Invercargill and became stranded as flooding and resulting road closures cut-off access to and from Gore - preventing her being on site.

Once word of imminent evacuation was received from the SDHB evacuation manager, Donna and the management team in Invercargill and her Resthaven staff in Gore sprang into action alerting residents’ families and preparing the residents for relocation to local care homes, alongside essential documentation, specialised equipment, medication, mobility aids, toiletries and overnight clothing.

Donna said the decision to evacuate was made at 8.15pm on Tuesday evening and all 56 residents - some in their 90s - were moved by 7am the next morning with staff working through the night to ensure the residents were transferred by bus to the most appropriate care facility, while they also responded to the residents’ need for comfort and support.It was a big, complex job. Some of our residents have complicated medical conditions, others have cognitive defects or diminished sensory ability and many have mobility impediments.“Staff went above and beyond. Evacuation preparedness measure are always in place as part of the facilities emergency response plan and resulted in, a nice, orderly evacuation to our pre-identified recipient homes,” said Donna.

Donna said many staff members had homes and family affected by the floods themselves and the majority had also worked the afternoon shift.

“They willingly put their hands up and put our residents’ needs ahead of their own. They were amazing and I thank each and every one of them.”

Special mention was also made of Robyn Byron Clinical Manager of Resthaven in Gore who did a “magnificent job” as Evacuation Coordinator and Donna expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the managers and staff of Albany House, Bupa Windsor Park, Parata House and Enliven Peacehaven “…who took such wonderful care of our residents.”

In the end “they never did get wet feet”, as Donna termed it, and the residents coped remarkably well with their overnight ‘escapade’ - something she puts down to great relationships, good communication and …preparedness.

“Yes - we do have a few areas we can improve on … But, by and large, we had a plan and that plan worked well.”

“Everyone got out safely, in a timely manner, there were no injuries and morale has remained high.”

And we can all be thankful for that.