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Monday, 22 April 2019 08:03 pm

Support networks kick in for the disabled

Feb 23rd, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

DIVERSITY IN ACTION: Diversity Trust director Philip Patston.

DISABILITY organisations in Christchurch are trying to contact clients numbering in their thousands.

There are no casualties to date among clients of CCS Disability Action, which has about 1000 people on its database.

Of those, 200 receive weekly support and about 30 are considered highly vulnerable because they live on their own or need personal care.

Organisation regional manager, David Matthews, says he knows of one disabled person whose home was destroyed, but who is safe with relatives.

He says standard procedure is to secure the staff and building, set up the support groups and start ringing people on the lists.

However, with its office building surrounded by liquefaction and some staff having lost their own homes, the operation has been “very challenging”.

Mr Matthews says his staff has been brilliant and some have been able to access the computer database remotely from home to call people.

It is just extremely difficult to get around and check up personally, he says.

“We do our planning but nothing prepares you for what happened yesterday. We adapt and do our best.”

What concerns him is the continued aftershocks and how it will affect their ability to keep calling people.

“At 1.58 the world changed, probably permanently,” he says of Tuesday’s early afternoon quake.

Diversityworks Trust director Philip Patston told Newswire that last year’s earthquake was hard for anyone, but especially for people with a disability.

He said he had talked to people who were unable get out of bed on their own and unable to quickly leave the house.

He has a posted a request on his Facebook page to hear from disabled people and how they are coping.

Response to date has been from people also concerned, and is generating discussion.

Huhana Hickey responded on Facebook: “I wonder Philip if we discuss with civil defense about setting up a database of need and a specialist team who concentrate on ensuring disabled in that area identified are contacted and/ or visited to ensure they have food shelter water etc port a loos accessible ones we really need to do this emergency txt line other resources.”

President of the local regional Disabled Persons Assembly NZ, Gary Watts, is running the headquarters from home and says all their members have been contacted and accounted for.

He says he has been providing support and advice over the phone, and if there are any problems, he follows them up personally or contacts Civil Defense.

While explaining how important it is to keep people calm and spirits up, Mr Watts felt another aftershock. That jolt was at 1.58pm today.

He says providing accommodation with ramps and hand rails for people in wheelchairs will be a huge issue facing authorities, with a prediction of five years before homes are rebuilt.

Meanwhile, just getting out and about generally will be difficult with liquifaction widespread, and roads and footpaths upended, he says.

The former volunteer fireman has been out checking on his neighbours.

One has had a mild heart attack and one elderly person doesn’t look too good, he says.

“We just work through problems as they arise.

I don’t think people realise how serious it is here.”

 Civil Defense guidelines for disabled people are:

  • Organise a personal support network.
  • If you cannot safely get under a table, move near an inside wall of the building away from windows and tall items that can fall on you.
  • Cover your head and neck as best you can.
  • Lock your wheels if you are in a wheelchair.
  • If in bed, pull the sheets and blankets over you and use your pillow to protect your head and neck.
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