The push to expand seniors care and allow residents to age well in Bindoon has received a significant boost, following a local meeting with one of Australia’s biggest aged services organisations.
Chittering Shire President Don Gibson, council staff and community and ratepayers association members met for more than two hours with Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), to lay out their vision for a cohesive community where people can age in place and families can remain together.
The meeting included a visit to the 16 hectare property, adjacent to the Bindoon Health Centre, which the council has earmarked for potential aged care development.
Discussions included the challenges of accessing home, residential and respite care, workforce and skills requirements and the importance of accurate data on the demand and the needs of local families and residents, to establish a strong business case for better services.
“I feel we’ve been failing the elderly people in Bindoon for many years,” said Cr Gibson. “I’d like to see some services built on this land, especially for dementia care. That is one of the most important issues and is a big strain on the carers.
“Just to have somewhere they can be looked after, with the community to support them, I think that’s the way to go.”
Longtime resident Lee Martin highlighted many stories of family separation, as older people were forced to move to receive better care.
“Some of the loved ones have gone away and it’s been pretty sad,” he said. “I have always said that unless we look after our youth and our aged, we are not much of a society. It’s time we did something about it.”
Mr Martin said he would like to see local ageing and care projects involve community management, to ensure funding remained in the community.
LASA State Manager Liz Behjat committed to doing all she could to make Bindoon’s ageing well dream become reality.
“We want to ensure areas like this remain vibrant and vital and have a future, so all of the wonderful people who live here can stay here and age in place,” she said.
The gathering came together after local carer and resident Bill Nobes approached West Australian Senator Linda Reynolds, who asked Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck to assist. The Minister recommended the meeting, to examine all options for care.
Former shire president Jan Stagbauer said it was critically important for Bindoon and many areas inland from the town.
“I think this is a potential hub for aged and dementia care,” she said. “It is an ideal place because, for many people coming in from the Wheatbelt, this is about as close as they want to get to the city.
“This meeting is a huge step forward and I would like to see it continue because we have had so many starts at doing this over the years. I would like to think that we are able to keep our people in this community, where they belong.”
Eighty-four-year-old Mr Nobes, who cares for his ex-wife who is living with dementia, says he has renewed optimism for progress.
To raise awareness of dementia, he bought a yacht called “Iron Will”, which now sits as a symbol of hope on the land designated by the Shire of Chittering for aged services development.
“I think if we can turn this into something that is very worthy and is going to benefit a lot of people, it would make my day,” Mr Nobes said.
“In fact, it would make my life.”
Mrs Behjat said she would use LASA’s extensive networks to draw on experts, care providers and the State and Commonwealth governments to help find solutions.
“The passion we’ve seen today is palpable and I’m really passionate about Bindoon myself,” she said. “Whatever we can do to help, we are going to.”