Regional providers benefit most from $150m in capital grants

Staff from Wheatfields aged care services in Freeling, South Australia

The 2020 Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) program, which provides capital grants to build or upgrade facilities operated by eligible residential aged care has been announced, with a high number of regional operators successful.

View the full list of recipients here

South Australia’s biggest winner with an $11.265 million capital grant is Wheatfields aged care services in Freeling – a small community of 2,200 people approx 60kms north of Adelaide. In addition to the capital grant Wheatfields also won seven new bed licenses to add to their existing 53 beds.

Wheatfields Chief Executive Officer, Michelle Schupelius, said the funding was “an absolutely tremendous success” for the Freeling community and will pave the way for a long-awaited renovation of the site which would add an extension benefitting the whole community.”

“We are very excited about our successful application in the latest ACAR round which assists us in growing and meeting our mission to serve older people, responding to their needs through the provision of quality services and accommodation. We are going to be able to carry out an extensive renovation allowing us to add extra beds and vastly improve the living spaces for our residents,” Ms Schupelius said.

“We can improve the environment of our 16-bed memory support unit making us able to enhance the delivery of dementia care by creating a more open and free-flowing space.”

Other notable recipients include not-for-profit aged care provider Banksia Villages who has been awarded $2m to better support residents living with dementia at their residential aged care facility, Banksia Lodge, located on the NSW South Coast. 

The $2m funding awarded to Banksia was the fourth-highest capital grant allocation in NSW, out of a total of 26 successful applications.

Banksia CEO Graham Wise was thrilled to receive the news late last week. “More than 50% of our residents at Banksia Lodge are living with some form of dementia. This funding will enable us to implement significant improvements in the physical and service environment at Banksia Lodge to better support residents and contribute to their quality of life and enjoyment,” he said. 

The gardens at Banksia Lodge, NSW South Coast

“The works will better connect the indoor and outdoor spaces, giving residents greater access to the beautiful gardens and surrounds of Banksia Lodge. They will also address internal spaces, creating smaller, more intimate, and home-like areas for residents to enjoy. Orientation, way-finding, and subtle changes to the environment will make Banksia Lodge more comfortable for residents, particularly those living with dementia.”

Banksia has been working closely with Dementia Training Australia (DTA), Australia’s peak dementia research and education body, through an environmental consultancy to explore how the Banksia Lodge environment, including buildings and gardens, could be used to better support people living with dementia. This has included dementia training for around 40 staff as previously reported.

The funding comes at a time when regional aged care homes are under intense financial strain with at least seven regional facilities closing over the last 12 months and fears for the future of the 166 facilities throughout regional Australia.


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