Providers hose down NT aged care ‘crisis’

Aged care providers and the peak body have talked down a crisis in the Northern Territory following the announced closure of the Tracy Aged Care facility in Darwin.

 

Aged care providers and the peak body have talked down a crisis in the Northern Territory following the announced closure of the Tracy Aged Care facility in Darwin.

NT Minister for Health Robyn Lambley said the closure was “terrible news” for the territory and called on the Commonwealth Government to address an aged care crisis affecting the Top End and Central Australia.

However, Frontier Services said it made a commercial decision to close the low care facility because the 40-year-old building could not accommodate modern lifting equipment or high care residents, and was also only operating at half occupancy.

Robyn Batten, Blue Care’s executive director, said refurbishment was not an option and the building had to be bulldozed. Blue Care assumed management of Frontier Services’ aged care operations in December 2013.

Ms Batten said she was confident all of the 30 residents at Tracy Aged Care would be able to find alternative accommodation in Darwin.

She said 27 beds would be available for residents at the Frontier Services’ Terrace Gardens facility in Palmerston when refurbishment was completed in a matter of weeks and other providers in Darwin had also offered their beds to Tracy residents.

She said the facility, which is located in Darwin’s CBD, would remain open until all residents had found suitable accommodation, and staff were working with residents individually to support them through the process of finding a new home.

“There’s been enormous planning and care to work with each individual resident and family to ensure them a new home of their choice,” she said.

For the 61 staff members affected, Ms Batten said opportunities for redeployment within the organisation were being discussed and an employment expo was also held onsite to support staff to find alternative employment.

She confirmed the building would eventually be sold once all residents had relocated to their new accommodation.

Alan Graham CEO of Aged and Community Services SA & NT said there was currently enough capacity within Darwin to absorb the loss of the Tracy Aged Care facility.

He said ECH and Southern Cross Care had also demonstrated their commitment to the area through ECH’s recent acquisition of the Masonic facility at Tiwi in Darwin and Southern Cross Care’s new development at Fannie Bay. Both organisations had expanded into the territory for the first time.

However, Mr Graham acknowledged that aged care bed shortages had been a problem last year when three out of the five aged care facilities in the capital – Terrace Gardens, Tracy Aged Care and Tiwi Gardens Lodge – were under sanctions and were unable to accept new residents. All sanctions have since been lifted.

Mr Graham said he hoped the Federal Government would continue to support providers in the territory to construct or upgrade facilities through capital grant support as future need is identified.

Assistant Minister for Social Services, Senator Mitch Fifield said the operational planning ratio for the Northern Territory in June 2013 (213.5 places per 1000 people aged 70 and over) already exceeded the 2021-22 target of 125 places.

Tags: closure, frontier-services, northern-territory, robyn lambley, robyn-batten,

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