On 21 September Australia's largest private aged-care provider, Bupa Aged Care, will welcome it first residents into its newest home, Bupa Cairns. With room to care for 144 residents, including 34 dedicated dementia beds, Bupa Cairns will employ more than 150 people when it is at full capacity.
Given the focus that has been in my region lately on the shortage of available aged-care beds and the impact that this has had on the Cairns Hospital's ability to admit new patients, I think this is absolutely welcome news.
To celebrate the opening, a family day was held on 12 September which I was pleased to attend. The event was opened by traditional owner Seith Fourmile and Indigenous dancers. There was a real family atmosphere. There was face painting, balloons-a real community event. People took guided tours around the home, talked to qualified professionals about aged-care options and discussed caring for loved ones with dementia.
On the 21st, around 50 people will move straight into the facility, some coming from other facilities around Cairns, including from Bupa's other aged-care facility at Mount Sheridan. There is clearly a great need for this service.
I was really impressed by the facilities. The rooms are really outstanding, all with ensuites and beautifully decorated. Each of the four 'communities', as they call the four sections of the facility, features a comfortable lounge and dining area. Outdoors, residents and visitors can enjoy the Cairns weather in landscaped courtyards.
They can even be pampered in their own hairdressing salon, can take advantage of the men's shed they have outside for those wishing to participate in those types of activities, or use a private dining room to entertain friends and family. The home will have a dedicated bus to take residents on outings and daytrips so they can continue to be actively involved within their community.
It is easy to see why the staff are already very committed. Some of them have only been employed for a week, and these staff volunteered their time for the open day. At this stage they already have enough staff there to service more than 70 residents and they will continue to work on attracting more highly qualified carers.
It was great to meet some of the dedicated staff including Davida Webb, Bupa Aged Care's regional director for Queensland; and Gaye Clark, Bupa Cairns's general manager. Davida is a proud local and says that, given the ageing population, the community needs more high-quality aged-care services which are flexible for people's changing needs.
I was happy to hand over to Jean Kent and Dennis Manson to cut the ribbon. They are the first two residents to move into this new home. They will be moving in there on the 4th.
There are still affordable rooms available and employment opportunities for people committed to aged care and passionate about delivering these services. If you are interested, please contact Bupa Cairns.