After more than 20 years of campaigning and lobbying, the people of Mossman in Far North Queensland will finally get a residential aged care facility in their town.
In a case that highlights the uneven provision of residential aged care across Australia, older people in the town, which has a population of 1,700, currently have to travel up to 80 kilometres to access residential aged care services.
As Australian Ageing Agenda reported in December 2014, the town got one step closer in that year’s Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) when 42 bed licences were awarded to The Salvation Army Aged Care Plus, which had applied to build a facility.
But in a cruel twist of the ACAR, The Salvation Army Aged Care Plus was unsuccessful in its application for a capital grant – leaving the provider with the land and the licences, as well as the task of raising funding as quickly as possible.
Now the wait is set to end, with the Salvation Army and Douglas Shire Council in December lodging a joint planning application to establish a 42-bed aged care facility, to be located adjacent to the Mossman Hospital.
Kate Callaghan, acting CEO of The Salvation Army Aged Care Plus, told AAA there was a “dire need” for aged care services in Mossman.
“The new residential aged care centre will meet all aged care needs in the community and we are excited to partner with Thomson Adsett to develop a brand new, state of the art aged care centre,” Ms Callaghan said.
ThomsonAdsett’s Cairns studio, which has been commissioned to design the new residential facility, said that plans for the home was unveiled at a public meeting recently and received wide support from the town.
Tim Bentley, the firm’s Cairns and South Pacific regional partner, said the project would bring the world’s best practice in aged care and retirement living to the local community.
“Having been a part of Cairns since 1987, our local team – all long term residents in the far north – understand what living in the tropics is about,” Mr Bentley said.
“The Mossman project will be designed to reflect our own experience of the wet season, hot weather, and cyclones and the impact that all these can have on small and remote communities like Mossman,” he said.
Construction on the Mossman facility was due to commence by mid-2016, Mr Bentley said.
The people of Mossman are not alone in facing a shortage of residential aged care.
The Productivity Commission’s 2011 report into aged care identified the patchy provision of services nationally and proposed an overhaul of the allocation of places, in recommendations that governments to date have not adopted.
The Coalition Government last year acknowledged the flaws with the current ACAR, and the difficulty in matching supply of aged care places with demand, and confirmed it intended to scrap the process.
Last year saw the final ACAR for home care packages places, with funding for packages to go directly to consumers rather than providers from February 2017.
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