Reflections from the end of the Earth: Social work planning, preparation and intervention with evacuees on haemodialysis treatment following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake
Keywords:canterbury earthquakes, christchurch earthquakes, disaster, emergency response, social work practice, emergency preparedness, health,
The February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch caused damage to infrastructure which made it impossible for people with end stage renal failure to have haemodialysis treatment in Christchurch for an undetermined period. Guided by the National Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan (Ministry of Civil Defence and Emergency Management, 2009) and the National Health Emergency Plan (Ministry of Health, 2008), the National Emergency Response Team decided to transfer dialysis-dependent people out of Christchurch to the Northern District Health Board.
This article discusses the links between social work and emergency preparedness and emergency responsiveness and the role of social workers before and immediately after disasters. It will provide a practitioner’s view of the planning, preparation and social work intervention to support identified acute psychosocial needs for the group of haemodialysis patients evacuated from Christchurch to Whangarei following this earthquake, with particular focus on emotional and psychological stress, isolation and financial resources.
The evacuated Christchurch patients expressed feeling as if they were being sent to ‘the end of the earth’. This article will reflect on issues of resilience, group dynamics, the role of social workers with evacuees, managing media and community boundaries, and social worker’s self care.
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