How to conduct a client-centred facility closure

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Recently, at least three aged care residential facilities in Perth announced they’ll be closing in the next 18 months. With more predicted to follow, given the current economic climate and staff shortages, how do we best support the older people who call these places ‘home’?

One of these facilities closing is Canning Lodge in Perth’s south. During a telephone discussion, an Advocate was pleased to hear a positive, proactive account of how this facility had prepared their residents for the challenges ahead in a respectful and practical manner.

Canning Lodge was operated by the City of Canning. In March this year, Council made the decision to close the facility after attempts to find a new operator failed. Our Advocate was impressed by the facility’s management of its communication efforts to support its residents, their families and their staff through a very disruptive and anxiety-provoking time for all involved.

Some of their measures to minimise the negative impacts on the older people losing their homes and, to address the challenges and strain of their relocation included:

  • Clear, timely and ongoing communication with residents and relatives on the attempts to locate another operator for the facility.
  • Proactive engagement and negotiation with other aged care facilities in the area to explore options for residents to transfer so they could remain in their local community where possible.
  • Providing both residents and relatives with access to the City of Canning’s counselling support services.
  • Where possible, City of Canning negotiated, clients’ Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RADs) and Daily Accommodation Payment (DAPs) with other providers to ensure residents would not experience financial hardship or repercussions from relocating. This was particularly valuable, as some residents had been with Canning Lodge for a long time and financial arrangements had changed over the years.

Holding hand of older lady

In terms of the actual relocation of residents, Advocare was told Canning Lodge staff supported residents and relatives by:

  • Informing them of potential options to enable them to explore appropriateness for decision-making, including providing information from Advocare to know their rights in the process.
  • Facility management providing support to residents and families throughout the relocation process.
  • Staff providing support with the aspects of physical re-location, including the City helping with packing and transporting all personal belongings/furniture for residents so them and their family could focus on other wellbeing aspects of the transition.
  • After moving to their new home, Canning Lodge staff continued to provide support to residents to ensure they settled in, as smoothly as possible.

Advocare wishes all Canning Lodge former residents all the best in their new homes. On a closing note, our Advocate also remarked on the manager of Canning Lodge wanting to know if there was anything else they could have done to support their displaced residents. This is a great example of ensuring the older person’s rights and dignity is considered front and centre in facing the obstacle of losing the place they call home.

Is your aged care home closing down? Find more information about your rights as a resident. Read our Fact Sheet: Closure of a residential aged care facility