More than 30 residents of an aged care facility in Dubbo have received unsettling news as they were informed that their home, St Mary’s Villa, will be closing its doors.
The facility, operated by Catholic Healthcare, has been deemed no longer fit for purpose, forcing its residents to seek alternative accommodations.
News of the facility’s closure comes as the federal government’s aged care reforms are implemented. However, Catholic Healthcare CEO Josh McFarlane told the ABC the reforms are not the reason for the closure.
“This is about how do we provide the best care the residents and the Dubbo community,” McFarlane said, explaining that the facility’s lack of appropriate amenities is the key factor for its closure.
“Given that [St Mary’ is] actually not purpose built for contemporary aged care, [Covid-19] did highlight how challenging it is, good infection control practices.
“It did highlight the importance of making sure that you have fit for purpose homes that can provide great care.”
McFarlane has assured residents that the facilities will stay open until all 36 of its residents find new accommodation. Many of them will likely be relocated to the organisation’s second aged care facility in Dubbo.
“The best long term outcome for the community is to consolidate to our Holy Spirit Dubbo contemporary home and close the St. Mary’s villa,” McFarlane said, but there is no guarantee that all residents will be able to move to Holy Spirit.
According to McFarlane the organisation “will work with every resident and every family to find alternative accommodation arrangements” for “as long as it takes”.
Last month, Aged Care Minister Anika Wells announced that an aged care task force comprised of experts and professionals had been set up to help improve the standards of care received by residents.
In an effort to address the growing number of those who will be relying on aged care in the future and the problems plaguing the system now, the newly set up task force will examine the current funding structures in aged care and establish a comprehensive system that ensures fairness and equality for all Australians.
The Albanese government has also awarded a $400,000 tender to the University of Wollongong for consultancy services to develop “alternative arrangements” for the 24/7 nursing requirement in the hope of preventing more closures in the residential aged care sector.
A new visa scheme, which prioritises the application of up to 570 skilled migrant workers, has also been introduced with the aim to alleviate the industry-wide aged-care labour shortage problem.