CLOSING DOWN: Blue Care Amaroo Aged Care Facility at Tweed Heads will close its doors soon.
CLOSING DOWN: Blue Care Amaroo Aged Care Facility at Tweed Heads will close its doors soon. Scott Powick

Elderly distressed as Tweed nursing home to shut up shop

FRAIL residents and staff at Blue Care’s Amaroo Aged Care Facility at Tweed Heads have been left reeling after learning the centre will be closed.

The home’s 53 residents and 47 staff – many of whom have worked there for at least 20 years – were told of the closure by management last Wednesday.

The decision came as a blow with most of the nursing home’s residents very old and frail and receiving palliative care.

The son of one elderly long-term resident, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisal for his mother, said he was disgusted by the decision.

“At this stage of life to be told to pack up your things and go is just appalling,” he said.

He said it was obvious management had been running down numbers for some time, with only 50 residents remaining compared to almost triple that number in the past.

“It looks like this has been a strategy over time; in this day and age, people are screaming for nursing home places,” he said.

However, he said he would reserve his judgement with Blue Care promising to assist residents to find alternative places “that won’t cost them any more money”.

One staff member, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said staff had been rocked by the decision.

“No one saw this coming. We thought they might have sold to get help and keep the business going but no one saw this coming to shut the doors completely,” she said.

“But it is sitting over on Anchorage Island and would be an asset for them to sell off.”

She said staff hours would be cut while the residents were gradually relocated.

“I am angry – half of the staff have been there for 20 years, they are long-serving,” she said.

“It was the one thing that attracted me there because you don’t usually get that in aged care... and they just got told (about the closure) in front of everybody.”

In a lengthy statement provided to the TDN, Blue Care said the centre – a small private hospital in the 1970s before being converted to an aged care facility – was outdated and no longer viable.

“Unfortunately, the building design does not reflect the modern day expectations of people looking for residential aged care,” Blue Care’s Group Executive of Integrated Services SEQ Cathy Thomas said.

“With this in mind we have made the difficult decision to close the service.”

Ms Thomas said Blue Care was working with residents and their families to find alternative accommodation.

“We are working with each resident and their family to support them in finding another suitable placement of their choice, either at another Blue Care facility, or with other providers,” she said.

“Residents and families are being fully supported through our management, staff, chaplain and an additional dedicated project officer.

“There will be no cost to residents for relocation, and no date is set for the closure.

“Residents will not be rushed in their decision-making; the choice regarding their new home will be made by each individual resident, and/or their representative.

“The service will remain open until all residents have moved to a new home.”

Staff would be helped to find alternative employment within the group, with redundancies a last option.

Blue Care said it would expedite the refund or transfer of bonds as required, in line with Department of Social Services’ requirements.

The closure of Amaroo is part of wider announcements made across Blue Care’s northern NSW services last week, including the transfer of all management of Blue Care services in NSW to Uniting, the counterpart of UnitingCare Queensland in NSW and the ACT.

Residents, clients and staff at Blue Care’s Kingscliff Aged Care Facility and Blue Care Tweed Coast Community Care will become part of the Uniting family.

Uniting is considering future options for the use of Amaroo’s site.

Ms Thomas said currently there were no planned closures of other Blue Care facilities in the area.

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