Member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell assures Gloucester will be consulted about Kimbarra Lodge's future use

David Layzell and Wade Smith outside of Kimbarra Lodge. Photo taken before current COVID restrictions. Photo supplied
David Layzell and Wade Smith outside of Kimbarra Lodge. Photo taken before current COVID restrictions. Photo supplied

There is growing concern about the fate of Kimbarra Lodge with the community still to be consulted about its future purpose.

However, member for Upper Hunter Dave Layzell assures community consultation will take place.

Since Hunter New England (HNE) Health announced the transfer of its aged care beds to Anglican Care in 2015, the community has been advised that there would be consultation after the low-care housing units closed in October 2020 when residents transferred to the new nursing home.

But almost a year later there is still no planned consultation.

Prior to the recent resurgence of COVID-19, Mr Layzell came to Gloucester and inspected the facility with the Gloucester Hospital manager, Wade Smith.

"The facilities are in good condition but looking a bit tired," Mr Layzell said. "The buildings do need a light renovation as the fixtures and fittings need some love."

According to Mr Layzell, at the moment the units are being maintained by hospital staff but will need to be brought up to the latest building standards prior to being repurposed. A building inspection will be required to identify any compliance issues.

"My discussions with HNE Health have determined that there is no plan to sell the buildings and that community consultation will be set up to discuss best reuse options with the hospital.

One of the sections of Kimbarra Lodge

One of the sections of Kimbarra Lodge

"Due to its proximity, it will likely be a health facility as it can complement the main hospital," he said.

There have been several suggestions for use that have floated around the community since the announced closure of the aged care facility. These have included things like respite and palliative care or supported independent living for people with a disability.

Mr Layzell advised that in light of the current COVID situation and the pressure on health services to cope with the increasing cases across the State, the Gloucester community is unlikely to see anything happen in regard to Kimbarra Lodge until things begin to ease.

"I am committed to ensuring this facility continues to serve the community into the future and working with NSW Health to do so," Mr Layzell said.