An extension to Haddington Nursing Home is moving closer to realisation with the Tenterfield Care Centre (TCC) board approving project designs at its meeting on Tuesday night.
With the two facilities under TCC’s care – Millrace and Haddington – both at full capacity and with long waiting lists, the additional 28 beds the extension will ultimately provide will go some way towards relieving demand. Millrace has 36 beds, while Haddington currently has 46.
It is still a long process before ground is broken on construction, although the board is optimistic of achieving development application approval through Tenterfield Shire Council thanks to the industry experience of the architects involved – Magoffin and Deakin – and ongoing consultation with council staff in the design process.
The development is spread over three phases, accommodating 12, 8 and another 8 beds. TCC general manager Fiona Murphy is confident that government approval for the additional aged care places will be forthcoming due to the facility’s capacity to provide services that are appropriate to meet the needs of a broad range of care recipients.
TCC chair Greg Sauer is aiming to at least lay the footprint for all three phases in one go, to save costs. He would love to see all three phases built concurrently, but it all depends on funding availability.
An earlier two-story design by a different architect was costed at more than $3.5 million some years ago, but it didn’t progress due to concerns about sacrificing bed space to accommodate lift wells and staircases.
The new design features a single level with a private ensuite for each resident, a somewhat rare feature in today’s aged care facilities but one which will increasingly be expected by future clients.
“We want to give residents an experience as close to home as possible,” Mr Sauer said.
Mrs Murphy concurred, saying that to meet the needs of the community TCC needs an up-to-date, modern facility.
“We have to build it for future generations,” she said.
There will also be a ceiling hoist for each bed, to benefit residents and staff alike. Mrs Murphy said the facility has to be dementia-friendly, and this can be achieved through techniques like special applications of paint on walls and doors to trigger comprehension in those suffering memory-loss, to help them go through their day with a minimum of barriers.
She is anticipating a double onslaught of aged care patients needing dementia and/or palliative care.
These days there is no classification distinction between low and high care in aged care, but of the two sites Millrace caters more for low-care residents while Haddington is classed as a nursing home for those with advanced care needs. (Millrace has a registered nurse on duty during the day whereas Haddington has a registered nurse available around the clock.)
Pressure is being placed on Haddington’s facilities as people are encouraged to remain in their homes for as long as possible, often requiring the advanced care offered by Haddington once they do have to move.
“Hence the urgency,” Mrs Murphy said.
Timing-wise, Mr Sauer said the whole board would be shattered if the project didn’t break ground in 2019. Once the plans are approved the construction will be put out to tender, with the aim of signing a contract by the end of this year. A specialist consultant will be engaged to secure the government license for the additional beds.
Mr Sauer said TCC had reserves to get the first stage of the project underway, but will be seeking community support to see the project funding achieve a target which is yet to be determined but would be in the order of $1.5-2 million. Meanwhile necessary refurbishments to Millrace and Haddington also have to be paid for.
So there is a lot of fundraising to be done, with planned events including a black-tie dinner in November which will also serve as a tribute to Col Mann. Mr Mann is the powerhouse behind establishing both Millrace and Haddington and retaining them in community hands. He relinquished his position as committee chair at the last AGM but remains on the board.
Other fundraising activities are being considered and will be announced in due course.