Lithgow Aged Care (LAC), at the 11th hour has been thrown a lifeline in the form of an agreement to transfer the ownership to aged care organisation Respect, bringing relief to families, staff and residents of the facility.
Respect is a not-for-profit specialist residential aged care organisation with aged care homes across New South Wales, Victoria, and Tasmania, and experience in aged care turnarounds.
All staff and residents will remain in place as the transfer occurs.
The changeover comes after months of uncertainty and blame-shifting around accreditation and sanctions placed on LAC by the Aged Care Commissioner which prevented it from accepting new residents and a $3.6 million wing completed last year with more than 30 beds sitting unused.
In March the Board appointed Ernst & Young (EY) as administrators to address and attempt to resolve the company's immediate concerns.
Speaking on behalf of the LAC Board, Olwyn King, said that the Board is very pleased with today's announcement.
"The transfer to Respect would finalise an association with Respect that started in 2019. Respect and LAC care about our community and believe that good aged care services are critical. We share a similar history, values and a genuine care about the service we provide," she said.
"As a small provider, LAC has faced many challenges. Respect understands these challenges and by taking ownership and responsibility, they would be able to use their expertise to maintain and improve our service."
Speaking with the Lithgow Mercury, Jason Binder, Managing Director at Respect said they have big plans for LAC, and wanted to stress that Respect is in it for the long haul.
"We need to look in more detail about what's going to be the best thing for the home. But definitely the new wing obviously needs to be made operational. And we want to get that going as soon as we can," Jason said.
"But we also want to continue doing work that started. There's a slab for another wing, which we want to continue with the development of that. And then as well Coonida which is the front building, we want to upgrade and renovate that and make it a contemporary modern facility.
Jason also outlined future plans to expand and upgrade the dementia ward.
"It's pretty extensive what we want to do, we're not going to patch it up, we're going to do a good build. It'll be a really good asset for the Lithgow community," he said.
Accreditation has been extended to July 16 to give Respect time to address some of the issues that led to the loss of accreditation under the previous management.
Nationals MP and Federal Member for Calare, Andrew Gee said he was pleased that an agreement was able to be made.
"Today's news means that Lithgow Aged Care has been saved and can stay open. Most importantly, residents will not have to move. This is a huge relief.
"It's been a really worrying and anxious time for the whole community. We've all been deeply concerned about LAC's failure to meet standards of critical care. We've also held grave fears for the physical and mental health of residents in having to find a new home. The uncertainty has been very stressful for the dedicated staff of LAC as well."
Worth noting is that once the transaction has settled between LAC and Respect, Lithgow Aged Care will once again be able to accept new residents as the new provider, Respect, is not under sanctions or restrictions from the Commission.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content: