Chris Stewart, CEO of South Australian aged care provider Helping Hand, has announced the Not For Profit would take “full management responsibility” of Kindred Living, which revealed it was looking to exit the aged care sector earlier this year.
Helping Hand, the first South Australian aged care operator to offer the Meaningful Engagement Mentoring (MEM) dementia training program to its workers, intends to take full ownership of Kindred Living within a year.
“Over the past few months, Helping Hand has been working with the (Federal) Government and Kindred Living to develop a plan to take over management of the Whyalla aged care services provider to ensure continuity of service to some of the most vulnerable people in the Whyalla community,” Mr Stewart said.
Kindred Living, a Not For Profit organisation founded as Whyalla Senior Citizens Welfare Association in 1968, was still supporting 16 residents at its Annie Lockwood Court facility after closing it in September.
The decision to close the 50-bed home, which was officially opened on 17 November 1990, was blamed on staff shortages, in particular its inability to employ Registered Nurses. The Federal Government’s Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission found it posed an “immediate and severe risk” to residents.
Two of Kindred Living’s other nursing homes were placed under noncompliance orders and it announced it wanted to sell its business in August, stating it had been on the market since a major outbreak of unexplained scabies at Annie Lockwood in October 2020.
Mr Stewart said at least 12% of the Whyalla population was now aged over 70, with a significant percentage of over 65-year-olds also requiring assistance with self-care, mobility and communication – creating a significant and growing need for enhanced aged care.
“While Annie Lockwood Court recently ceased operations, we are committed to ensuring we can meet the needs of ageing communities in Whyalla for decades to come,” Mr Stewart said.
“There are no immediate plans to re-open Annie Lockwood Court. Our focus is on the care delivery for residents and clients, and the stability of the current operations and workforce.”
Founded in 1953 as part of the UnitingCare Australia network, Helping Hand supports 7,000 seniors and employs 1,900 staff across South Australia.