A call for beds: Aged forced out of Lithgow

READY TO BEGIN REDEVELOPMENT: Lithgow Aged Care CEO Sharon Holt hopes new bed allocations will be forthcoming from the federal government in June this year so work can begin on the Maple Crescent redevelopment.

READY TO BEGIN REDEVELOPMENT: Lithgow Aged Care CEO Sharon Holt hopes new bed allocations will be forthcoming from the federal government in June this year so work can begin on the Maple Crescent redevelopment.

The transition from home to aged care can be stressful and, when that change is coupled with a move between towns, it is made even more distressing. 

Unfortunately, for some of Lithgow’s aged residents, this is the reality due to a shortage of long term aged care beds. 

"We have people moving out of town waiting for a place,”  Lithgow Aged Care CEO Sharon Holt said. 

“Families of people in care, who are often elderly themselves, are driving to Oberon to visit people, and that is a tiresome drive to do over and over during the week.

“But there is no choice for them.

“It is distessing, because most often it is not the resident’s decision to move (into care), it is their doctor’s decision.

“Coming into local aged care can be difficult. Moving alone and not having the support of family close by is very hard.” 

Lithgow Aged Care is hoping for an extra 73 beds to be allocated by the federal government's approval process across the Cooinda and Tanderra residences as part of the $30 million redevelopment planned for the centre. 

It is currently in the planning stages, with development applications approved by Lithgow City Council. 

Ms Holt said a minimum of 36 additional beds would be required for stage one to be financially viable. 

Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt will visit the Maple Crescent facility near the end of June in what Ms Holt hopes is a good sign for their chances of receiving more beds. The minister has no direct say in the approvals process, but Ms Holt said his interest in their development was encouraging. 

An additional 73 beds, the maximum allocation that Lithgow Aged Care has applied for, would bring the facility’s total bed numbers to 168.

“If we had that bed licence, we would begin tenders to start the development in October or November,” Ms Holt said. 

Two previous applications for bed licences have been unsuccessful in the last two years, leading Lithgow Aged Care to bring in a consultant to assist in their application process. 

With bed licences only allocated every 12 months, each unsuccessful application would be a huge delay for the Lithgow development. 

The waiting list for places in the Lithgow Aged Care facility sit at about 60 people, with the rate of occupancy constantly high. 

The redevelopment would allow for respite in Lithgow as well as more permanent beds. 

The proposed visit by the Aged Care Minister came after Ms Holt travelled to Canberra for a meeting with Mr Wyatt and Calare MP Andrew Gee earlier this year. 

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