Aged care set to boom in Nambucca in the next decade

You often hear the phrase ‘ageing population’ bandied about in the media, but nowhere is that term more compelling and accurate than on the Mid North Coast.

According to projected data from our Local Health District, the makeup of the Nambucca Valley looks set to transition from a quarter of the population above retirement age, to a whopping 37 percent in just over a decade.

Source: Mid North Coast Local Health District

Source: Mid North Coast Local Health District

This is anticipated to be the largest single increase in Australia in that period.

It seems more and more people in their golden years are choosing to live in our sub-tropical paradise – and why wouldn’t you?

The issue, of course, is making sure our community is prepared with adequate infrastructure and expertise to cope with the growing demand across the spectrum of aged care.

For the past year, our home-grown NVC Group (formerly Nambucca Valley Care), has been acting on its 40 years of experience and foresight within the industry by expanding across all of its divisions of care and services: Lifestyle Villages, Residential Aged Care, In-home Care, and Allied Health and Community Services.

And they have taken stock of the growing desire out there for people to remain living in their homes – amongst their individual creature comforts – for as long as is physically possible.

The Australian Government’s 2018 Productivity Commission report into aged care trends predicts the demand for informal (in-home) carers is expected to rise by 160 per cent between 2001 and 2031.

So NVC Group has been adapting to this change in community expectations through a two-pronged plan: by expanding for the first time into in-home care via a new base on 23 Princess St, Macksville, and secondly, through an extension and renovation of its Residential Aged Care facilities at Riverside Gardens.

The first stage of this redevelopment opened quietly in June this year, and has added nine more ensuited bedrooms and a dining room on the ground floor.

The admin offices which used to take up this space have been relocated to the new Princess St base, which also now incorporates an Allied Health centre with podiatrist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist and physiotherapist on staff.

Podiatrist Brittany Pike in her new clinic room in the old Bawrunga Health Service building in Macksville

Podiatrist Brittany Pike in her new clinic room in the old Bawrunga Health Service building in Macksville

Stage two of the Riverside Gardens redevelopment looks sets to be completed in June next year, and will comprise 24 new resident bedrooms and two spacious outdoor gazebo areas spread over the first and second floors.

These large, modern and well-equipped rooms are in direct response to the wishes of residents to “age in place”, skipping the inevitable disruption involved in relocating when the time comes to access a different level of care.

While in-home care has become ‘the new black’, there are still those keen to take advantage of the social environment and independence (without the hassle of mowing lawns and changing light bulbs) that lifestyle villages offer.

And so NVC Group has been making sure it has that base covered as well.

The Fairway Gardens Lifestyle Village beside the Macksville Golf Course has recently opened, complete with some envy-inducing facilities – think swimming pool, tennis court, community centre and the new Cafe Zen which will open shortly.

One persistent issue which plagues our region is a deficit in health care. And with an ageing population comes an increased demand for qualified health care and aged care professionals.

The Productivity Commission’s report is predicting a nationwide “carer shortfall” increasing from 150,000 to almost 600,000 in the coming decade.

“In the absence of mitigating changes, such a shortfall could undermine the sustainability of community care and increase the demand for residential care,” the report said.

As the largest non-government employer in the Nambucca, NVC Group accepted that instead of sourcing these professionals from an increasingly stretched workforce, it would make more sense to grow them here.

Last year they opened their registered aged care training centre in Macksville which, in one fell swoop, has increased education and employment opportunities for locals, and started producing home-grown professionals to cover an ever-increasing demand for their services, locally.

This last initiative is especially important because it has helped to instil our community’s path to self-determination.

Next Thursday, November 15, is a chance to see these latest developments for yourself.

From 10am to 2pm the ground floor of the new Riverside Gardens extension will be open to view. Access will be available via 20 Riverside Drive.

There’ll be refreshments on offer and you’ll be able to chat to representatives from each division of NVC about any questions you might have.

Riverside Gardens Facilities Manager Narelle Marshall said the attitude is slowly changing around aged care, and NVC Group is leading that change through it’s person-focussed care.

“We meet people’s individual care needs and preferences – choice is important,” she said.

Also in the news