Plans by the Waitaki District Health Services Trust could see the development of a retirement village in Oamaru which would include 21 villas, 12 apartments and 40 care beds as part of stage one.
The village would be built on land, currently owned by the Waitaki District Council (WDC) on Hospital Hill, with access from Stoke St, off Eden St.
The land would be purchased by the WDHS at market value and earthworks, subject to approval could begin early next year.
WDHS chairman George Berry said the village would be an extension of existing health services which would complement existing aged care facilities and provide for the growing need for aged care facilities in the district.
“The proposal, which has support in principle from the WDC, will be discussed at a council meeting on July 30,” he said.
“If they give approval, they will need to go through a special consultation process which will give the public the opportunity to air any concerns.
“If that is successful, WDHS will then have to go through the usual resource consent process which will provide a further opportunity for public input.”
According to Mr Berry, demographics are one of the driving forces for the project.
“The district already has a very high proportion of elderly people and that age-group is growing,” he said.
“Our board is charged with meeting the health needs of the district and catering for the well-being of its people.
“We have identified a gap in aged care in the future and that there is no facilities exactly like those we are proposing now.”
In the Waitaki, 23 per cent of the district’s population is in the 64+ age group, which is about twice the national average.
Mr Berry said this (figure) is projected to increase by 73 per cent in the next 20 years.
“Aged-care beds will need to increase by around 80 to 110 per cent by 2026 to accommodate the projected increase in extra residents and replace ageing facilities,” he said.
The village development would be staged over a number of years.
Villas with up to three bedrooms would be available for independent people with a menu of services such as laundry, meals or nursing care for those who choose or need them.
” This option could suit older people who are still working, are semi-retired or retired but are still active in the community,”he said.
“It would also suit couples where one is independent and the other requires some help.”
The one-bedroom apartments would cater for people who require more help and the rest home and hospital rooms would be available for anyone who is assessed as needing this level of care.
Villas and apartments would be purchased by residents under an Occupation Right Agreement which is an ownership structure used nationally and governed by the Retirement Villages’ Act.
Mr Berry said the business would be responsible for all external maintenance and garden areas and the refurbishment of independent living units.
“Rest home and aged care serviced hospital level facilities would be available for anyone, regardless of income or ability to pay, who require that level of care,” he said.
“The usual publicly funded subsidies would be available for those who qualify for them.
“The village would provide a full range of services in new, modern facilities, purpose-built to meet the requirements of residents with a range of disabilities and needs.”
Mr Berry said a management team would be put in place with experienced, specialised and professionally qualified people and a registered nurse would be on-site and available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“The development would include a community centre with a library, chapel, technology media and music rooms, fitness suite, gymnasium, hair salon and provision for indoor bowls.
“We know that some people are moving out of the district because they are unable to access this type of facility and with an ageing population, the demand for this range of care is increasing,” he said.
Mr Berry said the first stage of the project is expected to cost between $12 and $15million.
“It would take about two years to build and would create 70 new jobs,” he said.
“The timing and size of further stages would be driven by demand.
“This is a very exciting opportunity for for district which will provide greater choice for our elderly.”
According to Mr Berry, the WDHS is taking the lead to provide appropriate, modern facilities with quality design and fit out offering a level of care that would be the highest of national standards to cater for the increase in the ageing population.
“This will be a commercial operation and any financial benefits gained would be used to provide more in the future,” he said.
“Our hospital’s ownership model is unique and has been an unqualified success in delivering heathcare to the community which values and is proud of having its own locally owned and managed hospital.
The retirement village would build on what we are already doing and additional funds from any profit would enable us to do even more.”
Trust funding has already enabled the hospital to buy its own scanner and a birthing bath in the maternity unit, build (the) Takaro wing (the four aged care hospital level beds), provide smoking cessation programmes and continual professional development for clinical staff.
The proposed site for the development, which is in close proximity to the observatory, would not affect that facility, according to Mr Berry.
Although the development is as yet unnamed, one of the suggested titles is “Observatory Village’ in keeping with the local landmark.
By Jacquie Webby