Residents and staff at the Feros Village Byron Bay have had their immediate futures thrown into turmoil after the provider announced plans to shut down the facility for a ground-up redevelopment.
More than 40 residents will be impacted, having been told they will need to find a new aged care home or alternative accommodation.
But the Feros Care Board said it’s a decision that had to be made, acknowledging that the facility is no longer fit for purpose in light of recent compliance failures.
The 30-year-old facility has been under the microscope after the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (ACQSC) found that it failed to comply with parts of all eight Quality Standards.
A Notice of Non-Compliance (NCN) was handed down by the ACQSC last December which identified that Feros Village Byron Bay had failed to meet 38 requirements, including treating consumers with dignity and respect, and the timely referral of individuals to other care providers.
Last month, Feros Care management told the Echo that it was disappointed by the results of that audit but it has now remedied all 38 requirements.
“The home has been reaccredited by the Commission. It is important to note the Commission was satisfied that the non-compliance posed no immediate or severe risk to the safety, health, and wellbeing of the residents,” said a Feros Care representative.
“Since the audit, we have sought feedback from our residents. The data shows that residents appreciate the significant improvements to their care and wellbeing and that they now feel their concerns have been addressed.”
However, it appears that additional discussions have spurred the Feros Care Board into making a major redevelopment effort that will result in a “new, state-of-the-art community, purpose-built” facility once it’s approved.
Feros Village Byron Bay already offers a relatively unique aged care lifestyle where residents live in one of four 10-bedroom cottages.
Feros Care Chairman, Jason Bingham, said they plan to follow in the footsteps of popular models of care found in Europe.
“Our ambition for Byron Bay is to create a new intergenerational community where seniors and younger adults live together in harmony,” said Mr Bingham.
“Intergenerational communities address many societal issues such as loneliness and affordable housing, and they improve the physical and psychological wellbeing of all. It does not make sense to segregate seniors away from the rest of society.”
Feros Care, which operates as a charity, is currently working with residents and staff to find suitable accommodation in the near future.
A closure date has not been provided, while the redevelopment still has to receive planning approval, although one family member has said her grandmother only has two weeks to move out.
The public announcement shocked residents and their families, who have limited access to aged care homes in Byron Bay and the surrounding towns.
“You cannot just walk in and say to 40 elderly people: ‘right, sorry we’re closing down, sorry guys you are all having to go’,” Dianne Brien, daughter of 95-year-old resident Kate Smorty, told ABC News.
“Some were sitting there crying, some were sitting there rocking and shaking their heads.
“It just was heartbreaking.”
The timing of the announcement was also a big surprise to Bill Shanahan, who helped his mother Josie relocate to the facility just three weeks ago.
“If you could choose a way to do something in the worst possible way, this would be it,” said Mr Shanahan.
“We’ve lost our spot in Merimbula [aged care] and now we are hit with this news.
“Mum is manic, she’s 87 and started googling where can I go, where can I go?”
Mr Bingham said residents and families have been invited to discuss their individual preferences for where they go, while staff will be offered other employment opportunities within Feros Care.