Three local aged care facilities owned and run by Anglicare, Bimbimbie Retirement Village, Merimbula, Mariner Park, Tura Beach and Nullica Lodge, Eden appear to have had their futures secured after it was unanimously agreed by the board of Anglicare to transfer ownership to RSL LifeCare, late last week.
The transfer will include all five businesses that were originally put up for sale in July 2013. As well as the local aged care homes and villages, RSL LifeCare has also purchased Ginninderra Gardens and Brindabella Gardens in the ACT.
Ron Thompson CEO of RSL LifeCare said that the arrangement meant “these services will remain available for local people”.
Mr Thompson said: “With RSL LifeCare’s involvement comes a commitment to continuing the great service of Anglicare and ensuring the strengthening of future services.”
Today, Wednesday, February 26, meetings will take place at all three facilities between Anglicare and staff and separately with residents.
Anglicare decided to put the aged care facilities on the market when it realised that the costs involved in necessary refurbishments were beyond its ability to fund.
CEO of Anglicare, Jeremy Halcrow, would not be drawn on the price paid for the businesses and said that there was a non-disclosure agreement with the purchaser, RSL LifeCare.
In an information document made available to residents and staff, RSL LifeCare has committed to “redevelop the residential care home at Bimbimbie creating enlarged community lounges and dining areas plus plan for a dedicated community lounge for retirement living”. The company will also install a sprinkler system in the residential care area and has agreed to continue the op shop at Bimbimbie.
For both the newer facilities of Mariner Park and Nullica Lodge, RSL LifeCare has said that it will continue to maintain and develop services.
The document also states that staff will retain their current terms and conditions and encourages volunteers and supporters to continue their work in support of local homes.
RSL LifeCare is a charitable organisation formed in 1911, controlled by RSL NSW with the directors appointed by RSL NSW and now has villages and services throughout 20 locations in NSW and the ACT providing retirement living, residential aged care and care at home.
Mr Halcrow said: “We were very pleased to find a high quality provider, well-regarded in the sector and who has the same values and vision as Anglicare. Important from an Anglican Church perspective is the agreement that Anglicare pastoral care will continue.”
The news will come as a relief for the many residents who have waited anxiously to hear what may happen to their homes particularly at Bimbimbie where some residents were so concerned that they contacted the family of the John McIlwraith Smith, who donated the land for the Bimbimbie Retirement Village.
Mr McIlwraith Smith’s daughter, Kate Collin who now lives in WA said: “I am relieved to hear that the future for residents is assured.”
Mr McIlwraith Smith made a gift of the 18.5 acres to the Anglican Church in 1969 specifically for the purpose of providing retirement facilities for local people.
The land bought in 1946, also includes the original homestead on two acres and there is interest from the Merimbula Imlay Historical Society in applying for a heritage listing for the homestead for its historical value and association with the McIlwraith family.
Mr Halcrow also said the sale would allow Anglicare to re-focus on two core purposes – caring for vulnerable children and helping people overcome poverty.
“We will now be in a stronger position to face some of the major policy challenges happening in the community sector. One example is the National Disability Insurance Scheme which requires us to make investments in new IT, finance and care systems,” he said.
The departmental process of transferring the bed licences is expected to take three months.