Lithgow Aged Care has entered into a partnership with not-for-profit aged care provider Whiddon, which may lead to a transfer of ownership in 2020.
Between now and February 2020, Lithgow Aged Care director Olwyn King said it would be working, with the assistance of Whiddon, to release itself from sanctions, which were imposed earlier this year.
Under the terms of the sanctions, handed down by the Department of Health and Ageing, Lithgow Aged Care could not take any new residents for six months, a term which will expire in February. A clinical and education advisor and an administrator were required to be brought into the organisation.
"The financial impact of the sanctions is significant," Ms King said.
"As a result we went looking for a partner to help us and there were several interested. We felt Whiddon was the best fit for the interests of residents and staff."
At the end of April, Lithgow Aged Care's new facility on Maple Crescent is expected to be completed on schedule. The architect-designed facility will house 36 suites and feature, Lithgow Aged Care states, "contemporary finishes, light-filled living spaces and undercover car parking".
Independent, stand-alone facilities were struggling in the new age of residential aged care, Ms King said.
"The best interests of the residents, their families, the staff and the community has always been the first priority in any strategy developed by the board," she said.
Lithgow Aged Care was looking for a partner to move forward and Whiddon was the favoured choice by the Board.
Whiddon was seen as a good partner, Ms King said, for its closely aligned values.
"It's history is similar to ours - it's community-based, not-for-profit and has Masonic origins," she said.
If, in March next year, Whiddon and Lithgow Aged Care agree, an amalgamation process will begin, which will be finalised in May 2020.
The facilities would then operate under the Whiddon banner.
It would be Whiddon's decision whether to proceed with stages two and three of Lithgow Aged Care's planned redevelopment, the first stage of which is the almost completed Maple Crescent facility.
In a statement, Whiddon CEO Chris Mamarelis said that Whiddon was honoured to have been chosen as the organisation to partner with Lithgow Aged Care and the local community.
"Whiddon is committed to working alongside Lithgow Aged Care over the next few months to conduct due diligence and explore the potential for transfer of ownership in 2020. Like Lithgow Aged Care, we genuinely care about the services we provide and have a deep respect for the strong linkages that exist between the local community and Lithgow Aged Care," he said.
"In the current aged care environment, many small providers are facing challenges around financial viability. As a large provider with a long and proud history, we are grateful for the opportunity to be part of this journey with Lithgow Aged Care."
Whiddon operates 19 aged care homes, nine community care hubs and 12 retirement villages, including one in Bathurst.
"Should the transition of Lithgow Aged Care to Whiddon progress, we recognise that there is no one-size fits all model and from experience, we understand the support and resourcing that a successful transition requires," Mr Mamarelis said.
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