Residents forced to move after Central Coast nursing home and dementia wards close

DEVASTATED AND NOW ON MEDICATION: Shirley Keenan, pictured with her daughter Leanne Fitzroy, has had to move to a new nursing home. Photo: supplied
DEVASTATED AND NOW ON MEDICATION: Shirley Keenan, pictured with her daughter Leanne Fitzroy, has had to move to a new nursing home. Photo: supplied

A Central Coast daughter said she is "disgusted" after her frail widowed mother, who lives with dementia, was forced out of her nursing home.

Shirley Keenan, 84, has lived at The Orchards in Lisarow on the NSW Central Coast for five years and was told she had to move out following the management's decision to close the facility's 14-bed dementia unit.

The closure of the unit at The Orchards, run by The Astoria Group, comes at the same time aged care operator Allity announced the closure of its 110-bed Henry Kendall Aged Care facility in nearby Wyoming.

Mrs Keenan's daughter Leanne Fitzroy said she was "disgusted" at the way the situation was handled by The Orchards management.

She said the move has been devastating for her mother, who has become so agitated at her new home she has needed to be put on medication.

Her mother moved into the dementia ward when her husband, who was also her carer, died.

"I never wanted to move her, I never thought I would have to move her," said Mrs Fitzroy.

Mrs Fitzroy said the new facility at nearby Bateau Bay was "very nice" but her mother didn't know her way around and didn't know the nurses. She said she was so distressed a family member had to be with her every day to make sure she ate.

One day the care manager phoned me. She said management had made a business decision. I was given five weeks to find mum somewhere new to live.

Mrs Fitzroy said some residents of The Orchards had moved there because they thought they would be able to age in place.

"What happens now to all these people as they get older and get dementia - will they just chuck them out?"

The Senior contacted The Astoria Group, which is owned by the Shanahan family, for comment.

In an email to Leanne, David Shanahan wrote: "The decision that we have made in regards to ceasing to offer dementia care at The Orchards has been the hardest decision we have made since commencing operations at The Orchards seven years ago.

"The reasons for our decision to cease offering dementia care are many. The new quality standards, the royal commission, staff education and resourcing, and research and advice received with regards to what a well-designed dementia environment looks like.

CONCERN: Emma McBride.

CONCERN: Emma McBride.

"At the end of the day, for us our decision has been based on dementia care being a specialist field, an area of care that requires specialist skills and specialist staff. For us to be able to provide this in to the future at the high standard that we set for ourselves, we just don't have the resources to be able to do that."


The closure of The Orchard's dementia unit, and the closure of the 110-bed Henry Kendall Aged Care Facility in Wyoming were highlighted recently in parliament by Dobell Labor MP and shadow assistant minister for carers, Emma McBride.

Ms McBride said the closures were distressing for families and unsettling for residents, and blamed aged care funding cuts.

She said the government's failure to meet demand for home care packages and a shortage of aged care beds meant those needing residential care, particularly in a crisis, may have little or no choice.

A statement by Henry Kendall facility owner Allity said it was an older home, and the building could not be modified extensively enough to meet the accommodation needs, expectations and preferences of residents going forward.

Despite investing $2 million into improving the home, the business was constrained by what could be done with the existing structure.

Henry Kendall operations manager Deborah Karam said newer homes with better facilities continue to open in the region, with 525 aged care places set to become available over the next five years.

She said every resident had secured alternative accommodation and many care staff already worked in other homes in the area.

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This story Elderly forced out as NSW nursing home and dementia ward close first appeared on The Senior.