Villa seeks govt aid for high-care wing

TAKE THE CAKE: Chairman of Clarence Village Limited Geoff Shepherd, Yvonne Robards, June Vasey, Betty McLennan and Isis West celebrating Dougherty Villa's 20th birthday.
TAKE THE CAKE: Chairman of Clarence Village Limited Geoff Shepherd, Yvonne Robards, June Vasey, Betty McLennan and Isis West celebrating Dougherty Villa's 20th birthday.

WHEN prime minister Paul Keating opened Grafton's Dougherty Villa 20 years ago, he didn't even mention politics.

But yesterday, during the aged care facility's birthday celebrations, the "pollie speak" could not be avoided.

Clarence Valley Limited chairman Geoff Shepherd delivered a speech on the villa's future plans to build a high dependency unit.

The board has applied for a capital grant of $6.6million to assist in the construction of a new wing, and while Member for Page Janelle Saffin couldn't make the celebration because of the flooding, Mr Shepherd took the opportunity to ask for her support in finding the cash.

"Our Clarence Valley is not a wealthy area in comparison to most other parts of the nation," Mr Shepherd said.

"It is for that reason that we call upon the Federal Government for this grant assistance.

"Please add your voice to that of our board."

Former chairman Bill Dougherty said that when the plans to build the Clarence Village in the 1960s kicked off, the board was responding to a "need" for aged care in the region.

He said when it was opened in the 1980s he was surprised by Keating's speech because it barely mentioned the usual pollie waffle.

"So convincing and compassionate was he that my mother went home and voted Labor for the first time in her life," he said.

"Keating needed her vote as he won the election by the narrowest of margins."

Stepping in for Ms Saffin, her media advisor Peter Ellem said she would be back to visit Dougherty Villa to discuss the grant and that she would lobby the minister.

Originally established as a low-care hostel, 10 years ago 20% of residents were high care. Today, however, over 65% are high care.

Mr Shepherd said the residents wanted to age in one place and not have to move into a separate high-care home.

"My mum, Muriel, took up residence here at Dougherty Villa some 16 months ago. She loves this place and wants it to be her home for her many remaining years," he said.

"My wife, Cheryl, and I want Dougherty Villa to provide a quality and range of care to meet our needs in the future.

"We don't want to be forced to relocate.

"We should not need to be separated from our community and nor should you."

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