House debates

Thursday, 21 October 2010


Shortland Electorate: East Lake Macquarie Respite Centre

4:35 pm

Photo of Jill HallJill Hall (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Tomorrow is a very special day for people living with dementia and their carers in Lake Macquarie with the official opening of the new East Lake Macquarie Dementia Service respite centre by the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce. The building is situated in the grounds of Belmont hospital and has been funded in partnership by the state and federal governments through the HACC program.

It has been my privilege to work with the East Lake Macquarie Dementia Service since the early 1990s, as a state and federal member of parliament and also as a Lake Macquarie city councillor. I have seen the commitment and the struggle of those involved with the service over the years and the dedicated community members and professionals who have refused to take no for an answer. It is because of their work that tomorrow this new centre will be officially opened.

The dementia day care centre is being jointly funded by the state and the Commonwealth. The Australian government is putting in $900,000 and the New South Wales government is putting in $600,000. It is really important for people in my area—I think the Shortland electorate is the 11th oldest in the country—because as people age they should be able to remain at home and live independently. It is important that people with dementia can attend day care centres such as the East Lake dementia centre and that their carers can have the support that they need. This centre will provide much-needed support to boost dementia services in East Lake Macquarie.

The centre was first established in 1988, next to the Dudley nursing home. It was the first community based dementia centre in the Hunter. It moved to the grounds of Belmont hospital in 1992 and increased its floor size by 60 per cent. It continued to develop and establish its own transport service for its clients and it currently has two buses. In 1995, with the introduction of other specialist dementia services in Westlakes, Macquarie and Newcastle, it reviewed its boundaries and concentrated its services in East Lake Macquarie. It decreased its size in 2002 with the provision of demountable buildings. I might add that during this time it operated out of demountable buildings. In the early years of the service, the centre averaged 37 clients per month; today, it has 65 clients per month. It provides support for primary carers as well. Integral to the service is the carers’ social network and activities, as well as the support component, which is available to carers and their families.

The new centre will permit a wide range of services. It will allow for an increase in client numbers and the ability for more than one group to be accommodated at any one time. It has two separate activity rooms, ample showers and toilets that will give the daily program more flexibility. It will provide quiet rest areas for clients and will accommodate their special needs.

The building was designed by architect Peter McMullen of Rod and Hays and the builders were J and J Killalea, who have done a fine job. The design of the proposed centre is best suited for people with dementia who have a potential to wander. It will be less restrictive for clients and it will make staff supervision of clients easier. The privacy of clients, their carers and staff—to protect them from others—will also be paramount in this new building.

The new building will have a community training room, which will enhance the existing education training programs for staff, carers and board members. It will also provide a meeting place for carers, interagency groups and the board. The proposed facility will give access to a choice of genuine six-day respite and will also have the potential to provide 24-hour respite a week. That is something I know the centre is working towards.

The coordinator of the centre is Glenis Butler and the current board members are Jenny Webb, who has been the chairperson for a very long time; Dick Delbridge, who is the long-serving treasurer; Val Fraser, who I believe is retiring from the committee soon; Sue McConnell; Jo King, who was the original coordinator and is so dedicated; Nicola Rosenthal; Kathy Tudor; Pamela Evans; and David Edson.