The Mirror News

Town planning approval for aged care build

THE Prom Country Aged Care Inc. building project has reached a major milestone, with South Gippsland Shire Council approving a town planning application for the new 60-bed facility which will replace Prom View Lodge and Banksia Lodge.

The stand-alone building will be constructed in Foster directly behind Banksia Lodge as part of a health precinct including South Gippsland Hospital, Foster Medical Centre and ancillary medical services.

The new facility has been designed to meet current aged care standards. It will have the flexibility to allow room use to be easily altered to match future needs of the Prom Country district as they arise. The building design and fit-out facilitate ageing in place for residents, unless they require specialised high care needs, where their needs will be catered for in the specialised care wing.

Federal Government initiatives to enable older people to live in their own homes for longer are expected to curb demand for low-care hostel-type accommodation. However, the needs of people with greater levels of frailty and complex health problems are expected to drive significant growth in demand in the area for quality high-care nursing home-type services.

The construction project has gone to tender, with bids due from a shortlist of six preferred construction companies. They have a month in which to submit their tender response. The selection panel, which consists of representatives of Prom Country Aged Care Inc., is hopeful of reaching a decision during the first half of June this year.

Prom Country Aged Care Inc. (PCAC) is a not-for-profit community-based residential aged care service operated by a volunteer committee of management. The president is Sandy Bucello.

“We are anticipating having contracts signed so that building work can commence before the end of June,” she said. “We anticipate it being an 18-month construction phase, but completion dates can only be confirmed when the contracts are signed with the builder. Even then, of course, a lot will hinge on the weather.”

The design of the building allows for the roof to go on relatively early in construction so that work can then proceed out of the weather. However, even the laying of the foundations will be very much weather dependent, so it is too early for precise timelines for the schedule of building of the multi-million dollar project.

“There are lots of people who deserve thanks for getting the project this far,” said Ms Bucello, who is very excited with the latest developments. “In particular, I would like to thank our CEO Claire Schmierer and our Project Manager Michael Germano for all their hard work. I would also like to pay tribute to the members of the building sub-committee. John Pruyn is the former chair, while the current chair is Stuart Tracy. Both have worked tirelessly with the support of the building subcommittee – Janice Cayzer, Margaret Robertson and new committee member Phil Nightingall. Thanks are also due to Rob Knight, Rod Cooper and Jeremy Wilson who have shared their technical expertise as community volunteers. Thank you, everyone, for getting us to this milestone!”

The new building will cost an estimated $11.707 million to build and fit out, $9 million of which is being provided by the Federal Government. PCAC must provide the gap funding of $2.707 million. The start of construction should give added impetus to the fundraising campaign, which is being coordinated by a committee led by Julie Need.

“The community has been very generous already,” said Ms Bucello. “I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to the fundraising effort. We’re over halfway to our desired total of $2.707 million, but we still have a long way to go.”

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