Feb 19, 2024

All smiles for Byron Bay aged care residents as much-loved home begins a new era

st andrews hello leaders
95-year-old Kate Smorty and 70-year-old Jo Wooldridge of George’s Cottages are relieved to have their long-term home secured. [Source: The Echo, Photo Tree Faerie]

Three weeks have passed since a new era began for Byron Bay aged care residents as St Andrew’s ushered in a fresh start for the former Feros Village Byron Bay. 

St Andrew’s, which is based in nearby Ballina, stepped in as the new owners on January 29 after Government representatives recognised their local roots and commitment to the community as standout features in their application. 

All have welcomed the decision, with residents involved in their home’s transformation. This includes site renovations and the adoption of a new name, George’s Cottages, which recognised local icon George Feros. 

George collected donations throughout the 1970s to help establish his dream, a local aged care home in Byron Bay. Even though this dream was not fully realised until after his death, locals have never forgotten his hard work and his legacy lives through aged care provider Feros Care and the St Andrew’s Byron Bay site, George’s Cottages. 

“It was a request from the residents to name it in honour of George Feros. When I spoke at a community meeting on the 11th of February and mentioned we had named it George’s Cottages there was a round of applause from the attendees which is good recognition we’ve done the right thing,” Todd Yourell, St Andrew’s CEO, told HelloCare. 

The four cottages – Lighthouse, Clarkes, Wategos and Tallow – are named after local beaches loved by the residents. That love is flowing throughout the corridors of George’s Cottages, too.

“Residents are relieved with the care we’re providing and I’m getting wonderful feedback from them and their families around the quality of the staff,” Mr Yourell added.

“What we are now providing is certainty, encouraging resident input and we’re receiving happy, smiling faces from residents which is what it’s all about.”

st andrews sign
St Andrew’s has ushered in a new chapter of aged care for Byron Bay with George’s Cottages. [Source: Facebook]

Supporting the heart of George’s Cottages

Despite being told they would have to find a new home following last year’s Feros Village closure announcement, Kate Smorty was among eight residents who never left. She was a spirited fighter and vocal leader who wanted to see her home preserved.

Ms Smorty told The Echo they had no intention of ever leaving, and is relieved to have St Andrew’s on board. 

In a major sign of respect for Ms Smorty and her friends, Mr Yourell said his team are taking a slow and steady approach to introducing new residents so they do not erase their influence.

“We don’t want to overwhelm our residents or staff by bringing people in too quickly and causing any issues within the community. Rightly so, the residents who have remained there have real ownership of the facility. We want to work with the current residents as best we can to charge them to buddy up with new residents to help them help them settle in. This will help the whole community,” Mr Yourell said.

Resident voices are also promoted through a resident advocacy group, a food committee group and monthly resident and family meetings. 

St Andrew’s embraces the community 

St Andrew’s impact as new owners runs deep with Mr Yourell highlighting the overall positive response from the Byron Bay community and former Feros Village residents and board members. 

Several residents who previously had no plans to return to the cottages after departing in 2023 when its closure seemed imminent have expressed their desire to return. Meanwhile, three previous board members have also requested to become members of St Andrew’s Village Byron Bay Limited.

With a steady trickle of new residents moving into the cottages, there’s a much-needed focus on how the site can support older people throughout the Byron Bay community. Two meaningful initiatives will see older people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness supported into residential aged care, while some rooms will be made available for respite care.

“Homelessness is a massive issue in the Byron Shire and we thought we could help […] from a community perspective it’s what we should be doing. For people aged over 65 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, we can be another option for them to consider, to think about whether residential aged care is the right environment for them,” Mr Yourell said.

“There’s a huge need for respite, so many people are being cared for by family in their homes, and the family need breaks every now and then. We can also use respite for people coming in from a homelessness situation so they can see if residential aged care is the right fit for them long term.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Feros Village Byron Bay has secured new ownership

Aged care provider St Andrew’s Village Ballina is the new operator of Feros Village Byron Bay with the provider confirming it will invest $3 million into upgrading the residential care community. Read More

Christmas comes early as Feros Village residents secure their home’s future

After ten determined months of standing their ground, Feros Village Byron Bay residents have stopped the closure of their residential care home, safeguarding their future just in time for Christmas celebrations. Read More

Feros Byron Bay residents claim another victory as they avoid eviction

There’s good news for the ten remaining residents at Feros Village Byron Bay as they’ve avoided eviction, although the battle for their home’s survival still continues. Read More