Sacred Heart Mission

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As 2015 kicked in the mercury began climbing. On the second day of the year, hoards of people hit St Kilda beach seeking relief from the 40 degree heat, returning the following day when temperatures almost repeated at 39.

While people frolicked in the bay our Homecare staff members were busy assessing their elderly clients to see who were at high risk in the hot weather.

They were concerned about the welfare of two men in particular, one of these being 76 year old Pat who has serious health problems which makes him more vulnerable during hot weather. The South Melbourne community housing unit that he lives in doesn’t have air-conditioning and aside from the Homecare team staff, he doesn’t have any family or neighbours who can check on him.

Thanks to a generous donation by Novotel St Kilda, we were able to relocate Pat and our other client to two of its hotel rooms for the Friday night where the men rode out the heat in air-conditioned comfort.

This is the second year in a row that Novotel St Kilda has come to our aid. Last year the hotel donated a bunch of rooms that it had available during the extreme weather in February when there were two consecutive weekends of temperatures exceeding 41 degrees.

Most of our Homecare clients are frail and elderly and need assistance with everyday tasks such as shopping, cleaning and transport so that they can remain in their own homes.

Generally speaking, older people are at higher risk of heat-related illness, especially if they live alone and don’t have anyone to keep an eye on them. Taking medicines can affect a person’s ability to regulate their body heat, and dementia or a mental illness can impact a person’s capacity to adequately look after themselves during hot weather.

On top of this, many of our Homecare clients live in low-income, little, hot-box apartments and bedsits without air-conditioning that can get as hot as the inside of a car on extreme days. Some make use of air-conditioned public places such as libraries or the casino, but the trip there and back can be dangerous and eventually they have to go home.

Fortunately, for four of Homecare’s clients, air conditioning has been installed into their units through a small grant from the City of Port Phillip and additional support from the Good Guys Brighton.

As we write this, the heat has subsided for the moment in Melbourne. However, we know that things are just hotting up. With climate change increasing the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, the people who are most marginalised and disadvantaged in our community will be those who are most impacted.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who donated to our Do-Nation Christmas appeal – we’ve just about hit our target of $250,000. This means that we can continue providing our vital services, while also developing and growing our integrated services to help people even more achieve their personal aspirations.

P.P.S. If you happen to be in Melbourne’s CBD from the 9 – 15 February, check out The New Joneses apartment in the City Square. A prefabricated apartment is being craned into the square and a celebrity will live in it for the week to show how we all can live more sustainably. We’re thrilled to be The New Joneses’ charity partner and to have the honour of furnishing the home with kitchenware from our St Kilda op shop as well as picking out a couple of outfits for the celebrity resident from our South Melbourne store.

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