11 March 2023

Cooma’s SWHMC nursing home to merge with Respect

| Gail Eastaway
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Cooma's Sir William Hudson Memorial Centre

Cooma’s Sir William Hudson Memorial Centre is set to merge with Respect Group Limited. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

The difficulty in providing residential aged care services across Australia has manifested itself in the Snowy Monaro.

Bombala’s nursing home Currawarna, closed in April 2022 and other facilities in the region have been under significant pressure to remain viable.

The Snowy Monaro’s principal nursing home, the Sir William Hudson Memorial Centre (SWHMC) is one of those facilities under enormous pressure to remain open.

Opened in 1984 after years of fundraising and support from the local community, SWHMC is now set to merge with not-for-profit aged care provider Respect Group Limited.

The home has capacity for 72 residents and is currently home to 55.

SWHMC board chairman Roger Norton, made the merger announcement on 6 March, the same day the residents, their families and staff were told of the merger.

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Mr Norton said the merger was great news for residents, staff and the Snowy Monaro community.

“SWHMC was built through the efforts of the community. Thanks to this alliance with Respect, the board and I are confident that it now has a very bright future.”

Mr Norton said the board had spent months working with its advisers to find the best way to protect the long-term sustainability of the home before resolving to merge with Respect.

“Respect supports our values and has a strong reputation for quality care and has significant experience in operating aged care homes in smaller communities. Importantly, Respect has the desire and capacity to invest in systems and resourcing, including improvements to the home,” Mr Norton said.

These improvements may include room updates to provide all single rooms with ensuites.

Respect CEO Jason Binder said he had already met with staff, residents and families to assure them that the merger should go ahead with minimal disruption to life at the home.

“My team and I are focussed on making the transition as smooth as possible as we welcome Sir William Hudson Memorial Centre residents and families into the Respect family,” Mr Binder said.

The plan to join Respect at the end of March requires endorsement by SWHMC members, who will vote on 23 March.

Respect started in 1922, however the main organisation began in Ulverstone, Tasmania in 1962 when a group of community members developed a plan to build a local aged care home.

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This effort was led by William Purton, a Methodist, and supported by a newly formed local organisation of Christians from many different denominations. While the organisation itself is not aligned with any one church, this motivated group came together as a driving force to provide good to the community.

The first steps were taken by Purton, who took out a loan to purchase farming land close to Ulverstone. The local community members worked the land to pay off the loan, then subdivided the land and sold the lots.

The profit was used to build the Eliza Purton Home, named after Purton’s mother, in 1964.

The organisation has expanded over the years, particularly in the past decade to include six homes in Tasmania, seven homes in Victoria, and two homes in NSW.

Respect also has about 250 units in five retirement villages and independent living complexes, as well as home care services, which are prototyping to scale.

All of these services have integrated into Respect, remaining not for profit and thriving in their communities.

Respect states its mission is to care for the elderly in our communities in an environment of respect, value and belonging.

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