Hazelwood House - Urgent Community Support Needed

In an interview with three management personnel of Benetas, Churchill & District News learnt Hazelwood Houses current model is outdated, they’re running at a loss and there are few Churchill and district residents living there.

Surveys done show that Churchill and surrounding areas do not have a sufficient number of people who would access aged care to warrant a facility in Churchill. 

Despite being an ageing population, surveys show that many will not go into care and choose to remain in their homes for longer. 

It seems small aged care facilities are not economical due to a lack of funding. Many other smaller communities are facing the same problem. 

Can we no longer expect to have our loved ones close by so local family and friend networks can be maintained? Networks are so important to our regional communities. According to Benetas, governments do not see the need to allocate more funding to aged care facilities even though we are an overall ageing population. The good news is that Benetas operates a home care service and this could be activated here in Churchill to allow elderly residents to remain in their homes instead.

Concerns were raised about families now having to travel to the new facility at Dalkeith Hostel in Traralgon, where residents will be placed in reconditioned apartment style arrangements, described as more homely. The decision was regrettable but could not be helped. 

Again Benetas says governments need to be lobbied to ensure further public transport systems are in place to accommodate this additional travel, even though it would mean for residents in Boolarra, over an hour of travel with bus changes, or an exorbitant cost for a taxi if they do not have their own transport or a friend willing to drive them.

There are many concerns by family members about how their relative will make the transition to Dalkeith in Traralgon. 

Dementia and intellectually disabled residents in particular, will find it hard to adjust but Benetas has assured Churchill & District News that extra support will be provided to help them. 

Losing touch with the residents’ GPs is a big concern. Benetas is hoping to work with a doctor from Churchill to have time allotted to visit residents from Hazelwood in Dalkeith. 

With the current doctor shortage this will further stretch the availability of doctors for local community members.

One positive outcome from this model is that a registered nurse will be on duty 24 hours a day. Some staff from Hazelwood will transfer to Dalkeith and will be familiar faces to help the new residents transition into their new home.

How good it would be if this requirement could be the standard for all aged care homes.

When told that FedUni courses have placements at Hazelwood House, the answer was that they would be welcomed at Dalkeith where they could train in the modern state of the art facilities and learn about modern techniques in aged care.

Another concern was residents in these new apartments will have access to cooking facilities. Some residents will need careful supervision or be banned from cooking due to their health restrictions.

So what is to happen to Hazelwood House when it closes? 

Benetas says it will work with Latrobe City Council to find a use for this facility. With CDCA’s assistance we have been able to attract the interest of our local State and Federal members Russell Northe, Darren Chester and Melina Bath who are feeling for our communities and have offered help.

Hazelwood House and its lovely country setting should have a further life. 

Churchill and district residents, we need your help to show your support for a facility in Churchill and our utter indignation that Hazelwood House is to be closed.

The media release sent out from Benetas said it was with a tinge of sadness they were closing Hazelwood House.  

But for Churchill and district communities it is more than a tinge, it is a devastating situation that a facility they fought and raised funds for over a ten year period should be no longer available in this beautiful setting for future residents no matter from where they hail.  

A group of community members met with our Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester and Latrobe City Councillor Darrell White to discuss the closure.  

The outcome of the meeting was that the community would run a petition calling on Benetas to suspend the process until proper community consultation had taken place. We now call on the community to show their support by signing and circulating the petition that will be available at Churchill shops and from CDCA - contact Margaret on mgcdca@hotmail.com

Watch our facebook page for news of community meetings regarding the closure.