Nurs­ing home de­ci­sion on back­burner ... again

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - RICHARD KOSER

THE com­mit­tee try­ing to build a nurs­ing home in Moss­man has ex­pressed frus­tra­tion their re­quest for a do­na­tion from Cairns Re­gional Coun­cil has been “ig­nored” for an­other month.

The Moss­man District Nurs­ing Home Com­mit­tee asked coun­cil last Novem­ber to hand over the 2.5ha block of land on John­son Rd, pur­chased by the Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil specif­i­cally for a nurs­ing home.

The com­mit­tee thinks own­ing the deed to the land will al­low the or­gan­i­sa­tion to mount a com­mer­cial busi­ness case and win bank fund­ing for a 42-bed res­i­den­tial care fa­cil­ity.

Marj Nor­ris, the chair of the Moss­man District Nurs­ing Home In­cor­po­rated, said she is frus­trated at the lack of a re­sponse from coun­cil.

“This is a tardy re­sponse to our re­quest to be granted the land which was bought by the peo­ple of Dou­glas for the peo­ple,” Ms Nor­ris said.

Ms Nor­ris said it was un­likely a pri­vate cor­po­ra­tion would build and op­er­ate a nurs­ing home, given the low re­turns ex­pected.

“No one seems to be tak­ing up the chal­lenge on aged care,” she said.

“It’s no sur­prise re­ally, re­turns on in­vest­ment are long-term and very poor.

“How­ever, we are des­per­ately short of ful­fill­ing our obli­ga­tions to our age­ing pop­u­la­tion.”

The non-profit group’s pre­vi­ous com­mer­cial part­ners walked away from the pro­ject when the global fi­nan­cial cri­sis be­gan to bite.

Providers of aged care have been re­luc­tant to ex­pand their ser­vices in a cli­mate where 40 per cent are re­ported to be op­er­at­ing at a loss and the av­er­age re­turn on in­vest­ment is a pal­try 1.1 per cent.

Ms Nor­ris said there was a large and grow­ing lo­cal pop­u­la­tion of se­nior cit­i­zens who would pre­fer to stay in the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

De­mo­graphic trends out­lined at the Aus­tralian Coastal Coun­cil Con­fer­ence last week are ex­pected to dou­ble the pop­u­la­tion of non-metro coastal coun­cils over the next 40 years, at the same time as the Aus­tralian pop­u­la­tion ages rapidly.

Divi­sion 10 coun­cil­lor Ju­lia Leu said she sup­ported the MDNHI re­quest to be granted free­hold over the block of land next to the Moss­man hos­pi­tal.

“We need to re­mem­ber the land was pur­chased by the for­mer Dou­glas Shire Coun­cil specif­i­cally to be used as an aged care fa­cil­ity in re­sponse to the com­mu­nity de­sire at the time,” she said.

“In my opin­ion, that sup­port is stronger than ever.

“At this stage I don’t know what will be rec­om­mended but I cer­tainly hope that coun­cil will agree to the com­mit­tee’s re­quest.”

– Marj Nor­ris

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