A diehard community, a ream of politicians, and the board and management of the Cowra Retirement Village have come to the rescue of aged care residents in Harden-Murrumburrah.
Yesterday evening (17 May), the board and management of the Cowra Retirement Village announced plans to recommission the 45-bed St Lawrence Residential Aged Care Facility in the wake of a decision by Southern Cross Care NSW and ACT (SCC) to close it earlier this year.
Deputy Prime Minister and Member for Riverina Michael McCormack, who has advocated for Harden-Murrumburrah residents, has welcomed the news.
“This is terrific news for the Harden-Murrumburrah community, particularly those families needing aged care services closer to home,” Mr McCormack said.
Mr McCormack said he had remained committed to ensuring Harden had aged care services following the disappointing January decision of SCC to close St Lawrence.
“St Lawrence was built through the hard work and commitment of the local community, and I am pleased another rural aged care services provider – Cowra Retirement Village – has plans to recommission St Lawrence because it has a strong record of caring for its residents and has shared country values with the Harden-Murrumburrah district,” Mr McCormack said.
“Our elderly residents in the Harden-Murrumburrah district have made the area the wonderful place it is now in which to live. They want, need and deserve the best care possible in their senior years.”
Cowra Retirement Village, known locally as Bilyara, is a community-owned not-for-profit aged care provider which has been in operation for 33 years and currently employs more than 130 staff.
They operate a residential aged care facility, seniors living and community-based services.
Board chairman Ian Donges, a fifth-generation farmer, known across the region for his advocacy on behalf of the farming community as president of NSW Farmers and the National Farmers Federation (NFF), said the proposed recommissioning of the Harden facility is an exciting opportunity.
“The St Lawrence facility is 10 years old, is well designed and fit for purpose as a residential aged care facility and independent living units,” he said.
Cowra Retirement Village will undertake due diligence to determine the feasibility and sustainability of the Harden facility to ensure it delivers the same high standards of care delivered by suitably experienced and qualified staff as at its Cowra facility.
“Over the coming weeks, we will be engaging with the Harden Murrumburrah Regional Development Corporation and the community at all levels to start building a relationship of co-operation and mutual respect that we trust will result in the ongoing provision of a sustainable and high quality residential aged care facility to the people of Harden and district,” Mr Donges said.
Mr McCormack said he looked forward to working closely with Mr Donges and chief executive officer Scott Kable as they go through the due diligence process over the coming weeks. He also noted the work of the community to secure the future of the facility.
“The Harden community, also, deserves the highest praise for fighting so hard for this vital asset,” Mr McCormack said.
Mr Kable said the values of the recommissioned facility would focus on choice, respect, dignity and empowerment for all residents, and he looks forward to working with the community to reopen a residential aged facility in Harden.
SCC has also welcomed the announcement.
CEO Helen Emmerson said closing St Lawrence was a tough decision, particularly given the tight-knit community of Harden.
“We’re committed to working closely with Cowra Retirement Village to ensure a smooth transition,” Ms Emmerson said.