An anticipated retirement village in Gloucester does not look like it is coming anytime soon, after a meeting held by Anglican Care last week revealed plans at this stage for a nursing home facility but no more.
The community meeting was well attended by residents with over 70 people present to hear what Anglican Care's CEO Colin Osborne had to say about its organisation and the future of aged care services in the Gloucester area. Gloucester Hospital manager Paul Townsend was also at the meeting representing the Hunter New England Local Health District as was mayor John Rosenbaum on behalf of Gloucester Shire Council.
Anglican Care were announced as the successful tender for the transfer of 60 aged care licences from Gloucester Hospital (Hillcrest Nursing Home, Narraweema and Kimbarra Lodge Hostel) in June, despite well publicised detailed planning over the past year by Nambucca Valley Care and Gloucester Shire Council towards a staged care facility in the region.
“Naturally Nambucca Vally Care and council were very disappointed when they didn't get the beds. They were so far ahead in their planning,” Cr Rosenbaum said.
Instead Hunter New England Health revealed Anglican Care is planning a new, purpose-built aged care facility which “will meet the needs of all aged care residents, including those with dementia and challenging behaviours.”
The omission at last week's meeting of Anglican Care's confirmed plans for a retirement home came as a surprise to many, who according to Yvonne Reynolds from Gloucester Business Chamber “are looking forward towards using the retirement home in Gloucester.”
“But this will not be a transitional home. It looks as though it will be purely a nursing home,” she said.
Cr Rosenbaum said he was shocked when he realised that Anglican Care appeared to have no plans as yet to build a retirement village.
“Certainly the majority at that meeting felt that it [retirement village] had been going to be a part of it,” he said.
With a 20 kilometre radius within which to choose a site, the current preferred location for the facility is reportedly council's land on Clement Street, near the hospital and close to services and shops.
“We have always intended that land to be used for a three staged aged care facility,” he said, adding that negotiations with Anglican Care would state this quite clearly.
“At this stage I have requested we meet with CEO Colin Osborne and Anglican Care's chair John Kilpatrick to discuss what their intentions are, what is required on our behalf and what we would expect of them if they acquired the land,” he said.
With local government data showing that 36 per cent of the community is above the age of 60 and a council survey from last year backing up the need, Cr Rosenbaum said that “the retirement village aspect of it is so important to this community.”
After the meeting, Anglican Care said that Mr Osborne spoke about its intention to investigate the provision of retirement living and community and home care options in the Gloucester area and the need for services with the ageing population and the increase in elderly people retiring into the area. They said he also spoke about the next steps for the project and the economic and social impact that the development would have on the local area.
“Attendees were extremely interested in the information presented and very keen to see progress on the provision of aged care services in the near future. A significant number of attendees expressed interest in the potential development of retirement living options in particular,” the company released in a statement.
Cr Rosenbaum said that Anglican Care indicated they had raised the 60 beds to up to 80 and that “it is a positive that there should be a new facility within three years.”
Ms Reynolds said the meeting revealed the $18 t0 $20 million project would start building mid 2017 using Anglican Care's external building contractors who are used to building aged care facilities.
“This was disappointing because we are all about building jobs for local businesses, yes we need a nursing home but we also need jobs,” Ms Reynolds said.
“We have plumbers, electricians, air-conditioners, earthworks... they just need to ask to get what is needed.”
According to Ms Reynolds, traineeships, school programs, lifestyle programs, volunteer training projects and joint ventures with community groups would all feature within the facility.
Until the new facility is finished, Gloucester Hospital will continue to provide aged care. The Gloucester Joint Aged Care Transition Planning Team has been formed to guide transition planning.
“I would like to see a representative of the community to sit on that planning committee,” Cr Rosenbaum said.
Anglican Care will be holding further community meetings as the project progresses. It said it envisages the next meeting will be held once Anglican Care has secured its suitable site for the development.