Strong support for retirement village

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The vast majority of people who submitted feedback about a plan to build a retirement village are supporting the idea.

Waitaki District Health Services (WDHS) has proposed developing a retirement village on Hospital Hill.

As part of a consultation process that began on July 31, feedback was sought on whether people wanted the plan to go ahead and submitters were also asked if they would support an idea to establish two new council-controlled organisations (CCO) to manage the facilities.

The submissions deadline closed on Monday afternoon.

Council chief executive Michael Ross said the council received more than 80 submissions on the issue, with about 90 per cent of submitters supporting the proposal.

“The proposal aims to help address the growing demand for quality and affordable aged-care facilities in Waitaki resulting from a higher-than-average ageing population,” he said.

“This is an important issue for our district, and as expected, there has been a considerable level of interest.”

Mr Ross said council would consider submissions on Tuesday, September 10.

“Following this, council will make a decision whether or not to confirm its support for the proposal at its meeting on September 24,” he said.

“If support is confirmed, the project will need to go through a number of additional phases, including the resource and building consent processes, before it goes ahead.”

By 2031, about 40 per cent of Waitaki’s population is forecast to be over the age of 65. On average, compared to the rest of New Zealand, older people in Waitaki have lower than average incomes, meaning many will have more limited access to facilities and services.

As Waitaki’s ageing population increases, there will be a greater demand for aged care facilities in Waitaki than in most other parts of the country.

Aged-care bed numbers need to increase by around 80 per cent to 110 per cent by 2026, to meet the projected increase in people aged over 65 and replace ageing facilities.

The retirement village would not require ratepayer funding, but would be paid for from resources held by the WDHS Trust and the balance of funds required would be borrowed by WDHS.​

Council will consider funding some infrastructure improvements ancillary to the development at a later date. Any loss would be addressed by WDHS and would not impact on ratepayers.​ Any surplus from the development would go back to the community in the form of improved healthcare services.

The proposal would create 40 care beds, and up to 12 apartments and 21 villas (the final number would reflect demand).

The core services would cost between $5 and $8 million to develop (excluding the apartment and villas), and the entire project would take about two years to complete.

The retirement village would be developed in three stages: Fully-dependent care facility and hospital; semi-dependent, serviced studios or apartments; and Independent residential villas (one, two and three bedroom townhouses).

It is expected the facility would include access to services such as common areas, library, worship and chapel options, technology and media rooms, fitness suite and provision for sports such as indoor bowls.

Under the Local Government Act, council is required to consult with the community on the proposed establishment of two new council-controlled organisations.

Waitaki District Health Services:

A 100 per cent owned council-controlled organisation (CCO).

Established in 1998 for the charitable purpose of providing health services to the community.

Primary purpose is to ensure the healthcare needs and interests of the district are met through the provision of quality, locally-based healthcare services.

Through the Oamaru Hospital, provides four beds dedicated to aged care.

Has a board of directors who must report to council annually on the company’s performance. The board is expected to conduct business and activities in an efficient and effective manner, actively pursue all avenues of funding, and work with business partners and community groups.

By Jacquie Webby