By Karen Buck
DENMARK’S Amaroo Village 40-bed nursing home facility is about to move a step closer to reality, with tenders being called within the next fortnight for remediation work on the Hardy street site.
Council chief executive officer Bill Parker said the shire’s remediation consultant was in the process of finalising the specification and tender documentation. “The tender won’t be going to statewide public tender, but will go to council’s pre-qualified list of suppliers which have already been through a procurement process.”
A former council works depot, the vacant block on which the nursing home will be sited is contaminated with old car bodies, hydrocarbons and general debris. Village coordinator Annette Harbron said that extensive remediation work was required before the land could be built on. “Announcement of the tender is terrific news, because the nursing home is a much-needed facility,” Ms Harbron said. “The facility has been approved by the government, which licences the number of beds we can provide, but a number of other processes need to be followed after the cleanup – realistically, it will be two or three years until the facility is operational.”
The new facility will incorporate a dementia-specific area, and there are plans for a new clubhouse, day centre, administrative facilities and possibly more retirement units. At the moment Denmark has only one nursing home, which usually operates at capacity and does not have a dementia-specific area. This results in frail and elderly people occasionally being forced to go to Albany or Mount Barker for nursing-home care, which can mean distressing separation for married couples.
Amaroo homecare coordinator Lynette Sellen said that she had just dealt with a client who needed to go into care in Albany, despite the fact that her husband and friends were all in Denmark. “It’s hard when people are separated in this way, when they are forced into care so far away from their loved ones and friends,” Ms Sellen said. “At the moment there is no choice.”
Amaroo’s homecare program, which has been operating for a year, assists the elderly to live independently as long as possible. “Many people don’t like asking for help – they think it means losing their independence, and they keep trying to do things they shouldn’t – then something happens, like a fall, and suddenly they have no choice and do lose their independence,“ Ms Sellen said. “By getting appropriate help at the right time people can stay independent much longer.”
Amaroo homecare currently provides about 15 care packages throughout the shire, and Ms Sellen estimates that there are probably at least 100 more people who could use the package. There were different care packages, but waiting lists were long because delivering the service depended on the availability of federal government funding. It was essential that people applied before they were suddenly faced with an emergency.
“People need to be assessed, after which the transition can be smooth,” Ms Sellen explained. “We’ve got a great team at the moment, and have the capacity to deliver more care packages. As the need increases so will our team.”
Assistance can include showering, medication reminders, cleaning, personal care, running errands, taking people to appointments or for a drive to get out of the house for a while. “I’m about to take an elderly client to Perth for an operation,” Ms Sellen said. “She can’t fly, and she has no relatives, so if I wasn’t taking her she wouldn’t be able to have that operation.”