No future planned yet for Kimbarra Lodge according to Hunter New England Health

Kimbarra Lodge future still unknown

Still no plans made for the buildings

Members of the Gloucester community want answers about the future purpose of the former nursing home buildings Hillcrest, Narraweema and Kimbarra Lodge, but are yet to receive any.

After Hunter New England Health (HNEH) signed the bed licence transfer deal with Anglican Care the community wanted to know what would happen to the nursing home buildings once vacated.

HNEH's answer at the time was that it would be dealt with after the official transfer took place.

Gloucester's nursing home residents made the move into the new nursing home in October 2020, yet there is still no word from HNEH.

The by-election for the Upper Hunter State seat on Saturday May 22, sparked new conversation about the buildings.

Some people had heard they would be turned into offices, while others were told that the community would be consulted.

It's now nearing the end of May 2021 and a spokesperson for HNEH said that no plans have been made and community consultation will take place.

However, no timeline has been given.

With Hillcrest already being converted nurses quarters back in 1975, there is the possibility that it could be made into emergency accommodation - something lacking in the Gloucester region.

Kimbarra Lodge

Kimbarra Lodge

Bucketts Way Neighbourhood Group (BWNG) chief executive officer Anna Burley believes this would be a good option for the building, so long as it was managed by an appropriate organisation with the right funding support and ability to provide the right services.

When it comes to Kimbarra Lodge, the row of units on Hay Street opened in May 1992. Anna refers to this as a 'precinct'. "This is a purpose built structure for people with mobility issues," she said. "It's seen by the community as an asset that's had a lot of community involvement in getting it built in the first place. It's community infrastructure."

According to records about the establishment of the 20 unit lodge, the total cost of the project was $1.39 million with $70,000 of it coming from community donations.

Anna started contacting HNEH a couple of years ago with a proposal for the 'Kimbarra precinct', with a list of service options that could be run by BWNG for the community.

Possible uses include:

* Respite for NDIS clients and in-home aged care clients

* Palliative care for Home Care package clients

* On Country Indigenous palliative care.

* Social Housing for people who don't require extensive, specialised support

* Supported Independent Living (SIL) for people with a disability that is fit for purpose.

Her sentiments have been echoed by the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Ryan Park.

"There is a glaring need for emergency accommodation in Gloucester that's only being amplified by the regional housing crisis. Locals are being priced out of the housing and rental markets," he said.

The lack of rental availability and affordability off the back of Gloucester's COVID-19 real estate boom has left numerous families without housing.