Aged care change

The State Government’s decision to consult with Strathalbyn residents about the future of aged care in their town is a positive move.
The sudden closure of the Kalimna aged care hostel was sprung on the community by the former State Labor Government in 2017 and upset a large number of the town’s residents.
Its closure was reasonable – it didn’t meet modern safety standards – but it wasn’t handled with appropriate sensitivity and failed to recognise the huge amount of grass-roots community effort that went into fundraising and establishing the hostel in the first place.
The newly elected Liberals have learned from Labor’s mistake and acknowledge the importance of community consultation in expanding the town’s aged care facility and the future use of the Kalimna hostel.
However, it is vital it does not become community consultation in name only.
Whether or not the Government acts on the data it collects from the public forum and the overall engagement process remains to be seen.
Aged care in Strathalbyn – like the wider region and the rest of Australia – is not an issue with a short-term fix.
With an ageing population and ever-increasing strain on the resources and facilities required to properly care for older residents, the decision to effectively consult with residents is a step in the right direction to ease some of the stresses on this industry.
Allowing those who are going to use these facilities to have their say on what they feel they need to enjoy their remaining years is important.
Ensuring the community is part of the solution will no doubt make for a better outcome, even if some people’s wishes are not adopted.
As people who live in communities like Strathalbyn get older, they want to stay in the places they love.
When Kalimna was closed, its residents were displaced – some were moved into temporary beds at the Strathalbyn hospital, others were forced to relocate to facilities in different parts of the State.
These people want to stay close to their families, friends and familiar environments and this consultation period might help create a blueprint for other communities to ensure older residents are able to enjoy their remaining years in comfort and stability.

For the full report, see the print issue of The Courier.