Friday, January 18, 2008

Trooble owt Hastings wey!

It’s reported this week in the Hastings Independent that “the future of the Hastings Regional Nursing Home buildings has been thrown into doubt by the failure of the new owners to attract extra aged-care beds.”

This is a nursing home that closed in 2006, having “dispersed” its residents “to other nursing homes while the new owners sought to establish the home’s viability.”

Why should we care about the buildings?

Obviously Don Hodgins, the owner, cares about them. But his plans for his acquisition “received a setback when the Department of Health and Ageing rejected Mr Hodgins’ application in last year’s round for a further 30 beds to make the project viable.”

According to the Hastings Independent,

[Mr Hodgins] believed that the change of government and Liberal members in Hastings’ state and federal seats meant Hastings might not receive a favourable allocation of aged-care beds in the near future.

It’s a conspiracy!! Or, at least, a conspiracy theory — to which the sitting federal member seems more than a little partial:

Flinders MP Greg Hunt said he was surprised by the failure of [Mr Hodgins’] application and hoped there was no political interference by the incoming government in the decision.

Thus, the rather nasty suggestion by these two gentlemen — the developer and the politician — is that, in the two and a half weeks between being sworn in as ministers of the new Rudd Government, and the announcement of successful applicants on December 20, Ministers Nicola Roxon and/or Justine Elliot subverted the bureaucratic process by which nursing home beds are awarded, basically because the district is a Liberal constituency.

It’s a suggestion, however, that doesn’t seem to be supported by another unsuccessful applicant, The Bays Hospital Group, whose CEO Peter Wilkinson

said demand for beds had declined with the success of the Federal Government’s policy to keep elderly people at home where possible.

“I still have 10 beds in hand and vacancies.

“You could argue Hastings was not awarded beds because there is not the need.”

Mr Wilkinson said he received notifications daily of vacancies from other nursing homes.

“This is a recent phenomenon owing to the success of the policy position to provide services at home,” he said.

So, who does one believe? The disgruntled applicant and a disgruntled MP of the former government? Or the guy with an astute eye on emerging developments and trends?

The policy identified by Mr Wilkinson of supporting older people to remain at home is one that was long promoted, and rightly so, by the former Howard Government. So if someone in Mr Hodgins’ position wants to blame someone, then he can blame... Howard?

  • Source: “Nursing home future in doubt” by Fran Henke in the Hastings Independent, 15 January 2008, page 7. (No link available.)

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