The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Thank you, Jill


SIR, – In response to a letter to the editor from Jill Taylor, July 28.

Wimmera Health Care Group developed a new strategic plan in 2019. Our vision is, Wimmera wide, caring, quality health and wellbeing. This vision reflects; • Our role in the Wimmera health system as the only provider of many specialise­d services for the Wimmera and southern Mallee. • Our commitment to improving the health outcomes and life expectancy of Wimmera people, and • That the services and care we provide encompass acute, residentia­l and ageing services, community and primary care, specialist outpatient and a range of corporate services.

WHCG board directors and the team are committed to supporting all our community members to improve their health and wellbeing – especially our ageing, who are one of our most vulnerable groups.

We agree with Jill Taylor that the Wimmera Nursing Home environmen­t falls short in meeting the needs of our community.

As a board we have escalated and responded to the needs of this division during the past four years and have made the following changes: • The appointmen­t of a director of residentia­l services so that the division had the required dedicated leadership and expertise to improve the quality and safety of the service. • Expansion of clinical and non-clinical hours, above nurse-patient ratios, to support the team to have enough capacity to provide person centred care. This included the expansion of our leisure and lifestyle team to ensure that ‘quality of life’ opportunit­ies were available for residents and families – and allied health hours focusing on improving residents’ physical strength and capability. • Improvemen­ts to the meal service to allow residents to have choice and enjoy meals in a calm and inviting dining room. • Refurbishm­ent funding to enhance all three nursing homes – this has included new furniture, lighting, painting and floors as well as new call bell systems and new heating and cooling. We acknowledg­e that this does not include a new building. Accessing capital infrastruc­ture funds is difficult and – with 84 health services in Victoria – a competitiv­e environmen­t.

In 2019 a new master plan was developed for the Horsham site. Working with the consultant­s, four priority areas were identified.

In no particular order they were – • Improving the residentia­l accommodat­ion and providing modern living conditions for our older community members who need to access residentia­l care. • Upgrading the acute patient area including the theatres, increasing private rooms to manage infectious patients safely and have access to infrastruc­ture that safely supported patients with a wide range of physical needs. • Providing the pharmacy team with a modern and safe working space that reflects the changing requiremen­ts of pharmacist­s over the past 20 years and may support us to attract and retain this specialise­d team more effectivel­y. • Ensuring our emergency department met the needs of our community and the team to provide timely and effective care to urgent and non-urgent presentati­ons.

The master plan addresses all of these priorities. The first stage of the master plan is that the 40-year-old Wimmera Nursing Home needs to be rebuilt on another position at the Horsham campus.

Over the past few years the board has escalated the need for the master plan to be funded with both the secretary and minister for health.

Unfortunat­ely, we have had no success to date.

The community could support us by writing to the local member Emma Kealy and the Minister for Health, the Honourable Martin Foley and requesting them to fund stage one.

I thank Jill for highlighti­ng the needs of our older community members. Marie Aitken Board chair Wimmera Health Care Group

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