Nov 23, 2023

Community wins back their beloved aged care site

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Currawarna Assisted Living Chair, Keith Campbell (pictured, right), with fellow staff and community members advocating for the site’s re-opening. [Source: A Current Affair]

After a strong effort from the New South Wales Snowy Mountains community, an assisted living facility will open in the new year on the site of their local aged care home which was forced to close in 2022.

The Bombala community has raised $340,000 and secured a NSW Government grant of $840,000 to transform the site from aged care to an assisted living facility.

In April 2022, Southern Cross Care’s Currawarna Residential Care facility was closed due to workforce shortages, forcing residents to move more than 100 kilometres away for care to areas such as Cooma and Canberra.

But since the closure, members of the community have been tirelessly fundraising to re-open what had been the town’s only aged care service and now, the new Currawarna Assisted Living facility will open its doors on January 15.

Currawarna Assisted Living Chair and six-generation Bombala local, Keith Campbell, said there was already a solid expression of interest from about six people who want to move in on opening day. 

“We’re delighted, of course, and very proud of the huge effort that the board members have put in, and the community for raising a massive amount of money,” he told ABC News.

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A new funding model from the Federal Government rolled out last year has caused some local councils across Australia to stop providing aged care services. [Source: ABC News]

Currawarna can house 30 residents and a recruitment drive is currently running to secure 14 staff members.

However, it’s not all good news for facilities in the local region. Last week, Snowy Monaro Regional Council confirmed that its Berridale aged care site – an hour north of Bombala – will close the Snowy River Hostel on March 28, 2024.

The local council said they were unable to find an aged care provider willing to take over operations and could not afford to delay the closure of the 14-bed facility.

Cheryl Mould, Chair of the Snowy River Hostel steering committee also told ABC residents, their families and staff are “mortified” as to what direction they’re going to take but saw potential in mirroring the efforts of the Bombala community. 

“There is potential to turn Snowy River Hostel into a lovely respite centre, but aged care is the priority at the moment.

“We’ve got land here, we’ve got capacity here, and we’ve got the clientele, so watch this space.”

Snowy River Hostel’s six residents have been offered relocation 30 minutes away to Cooma aged care facilities Hudson House and Yallambee Lodge and staff are said to be receiving help to find alternative employment.

Expressions of interest will now be sought from organisations interested in providing respite care, or a similar service from the Snowy River Hostel site as no dedicated respite facility is available in the region.

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