Aged care crisis looms

TODYAY faces a severe housing crisis due to the shire’s rapidly ageing population, according to a new draft local government report on future community needs.

It also says the lack of local public transport is a “stand-out deficiency” that threatens to trap older local residents in smaller towns and on farms, deny them access to health care and create a risk of social isolation.
The Shire of Toodyay’s draft 10-year plan says the number of people aged 70 or more in Toodyay is expected to more than double to 892 in the next decade.
   However, Toodyay has no aged-care facilities to meet even existing demand.

   Butterly Cottages provides 12 local subsidised rental units for people older than 55 but only if they are capable of looking after themselves and living independently.
   New tenants face long waiting lists although 18 more two-bedroom units are planned for Toodyay, with construction on the first nine due to start later this year.

    All Avon region shires except Northam had waiting lists for “older persons’ housing.
    The draft plan says the nearest aged-care beds are in Northam and Goomalling.
    A total of 97 aged-care beds in the Avon region – which covers 22,000 people in the shires of Toodyay, Goomalling, Northam, Dowerin, Chittering and Victoria Plains – is “far short” of the 185 beds currently needed under Federal Government planning ratios.
    A further 230 aged-care beds in the region are likely to be needed within the “relatively short planning timeframe” of 15 years.
    The draft plan follows the shire’s recent “age-friendly” survey and says the biggest increase in Toodyay’s ageing population is expected in the age group 75-84, rising from 170 five years ago to 630 in 10 years’ time.
    “This will place a significant amount of pressure on existing services in the Shire of Toodyay unless they are accounted for,” the draft plan says.
    The survey was completed by 89 local people (60 per cent retired) and collated with a focus group of 11 seniors (91 per cent retired) and seven service providers.
    The draft plan says critical issues for the community are:
Access to consistent quality health and medical services;
Road safety;
Public and community transport to Perth and other regional centres;
Increased home care services;
Suitable housing and accommodation; and
A swimming pool.
    Transport was a “standout deficiency” because it restricted older people’s mobility and “connection”, and access to health care.
    “People living in smaller towns or on farms have particular difficulties where there is a lack of organised transport to centres such as Northam, the draft plan says.
    “This creates a risk of social isolation.
    “Population projections imply escalating demand, with a near doubling of the sub-regional 70-plus population in the next 15 years.
   The draft plan said addressing the ageing population at a sub-regional and State level required a concerted approach.
    “Where shires are to be involved, they will be understandably reluctant to assume all the burden of assessing, planning and facilitating the building of required housing,” the draft plan said.
    “Shire roles will need to be shared with housing organisations and/or supported with new resourcing.
    “A collaborative approach will be needed, involving local housing organisations, shires, the Avon Region Organisation of Councils and the State Government.”
    The draft plan said the shire’s corporate business plan included working in partnership with aged-care service providers to cater for older residents’ needs.
    The Toodyay Shire Council agreed 9-0 last month to release the 79-page “Draft Age Friendly Plan” for public comment.



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