13 November 2023

Council set to vote on proposed March closure date for Berridale aged-care facility

| Claire Sams
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Snowy Monaro Regional Council will vote on the next step in divesting itself of its aged-care facilities at its next meeting later this month. Photo: Gail Eastaway.

It has been recommended that an aged-care facility in the Snowy Mountains close early next year.

A report will be tabled at Snowy Monaro Regional Council’s next meeting, recommending the Snowy River Hostel in Berridale close.

Should councillors vote to approve the recommendation, the residential aged-care facility will close at 5 pm on 28 March, 2024.

According to the council meeting agenda, it is also recommended that the council develop “satisfactory support arrangements” to help residents find a new home and seek expressions of interest from organisations willing to take ownership of the site.

Snowy River Hostel is one of the council’s two aged-care facilities, alongside Yallambee Lodge in Cooma.

The latter was also the site of Clare Nowland’s alleged tasering in May 2023, which remains before the courts.

Snowy River Hostel currently has six residents, according to a statement from the council.

Should the closure go ahead, there is the possibility for these residents to be moved to the Cooma-based aged-care facilities of Hudson House and Yallambee Lodge.

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The council previously announced it was planning to divest itself of both Yallambee Lodge and Snowy River Hostel.

The council had been working with aged-care provider Sapphire Coast Community Aged Care (SCCAC), with plans for SCCAC to take over operations of both facilities.

However, those plans have since fallen through, with operations and assets of Yallambee Lodge being taken over by Respect Aged Care.

The third-party provider also operates Hudson House, formerly known as Sir William Hudson Memorial Centre.

According to the November meeting agenda, the council faced several issues operating the facilities.

“There is no upside to council continuing to operate residential aged-care facilities and attempting to do so is placing residents at risk through our ongoing difficulty to attract staff and consequently maintain service standards,” the agenda read.

“At the time of writing, we were having difficulty engaging agency staff, let alone appointing them.”

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Councillors had voted unanimously in July to postpone a decision on when and how the Snowy River Hostel would close, citing the need for further community consultation.

To keep the facility operating, following this deferral, the council had to find additional funds to cover the extended period that the centre would need to remain open.

“This required the reallocation of several hundred thousand dollars from the roads budget to operate Snowy River Hostel until the proposed date of closure,” according to a council statement.

A council spokesperson said a meeting was held on 9 November with residents, staff and residents’ families to discuss the report and how the council can help with movement to a new facility.

“Should adequate resourcing not be achievable, this may bring forward the closure,” the spokesperson said.

“The community and council have both requested additional Australian Government funding to keep Snowy River Hostel open.

“Whether for the immediate future or over the long term, these requests have regrettably not been able to be confirmed.”

Snowy Monaro Regional Council’s next meeting will be on 16 November (Thursday) from 1 pm.

The full agenda for the meeting is available on the Snowy Monaro Regional Council’s website.

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