Golf club member Matt Dougherty, Grafton District Golf Club president Trevor Townsend, surveyor Andrew Fletcher, Member for Page Kevin Hogan, Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt and the CEO of Signaturecare Graeme Croft on the site of a proposed 144-bed aged care centre to be built on land occupied by two former holes on the golf course.
Golf club member Matt Dougherty, Grafton District Golf Club president Trevor Townsend, surveyor Andrew Fletcher, Member for Page Kevin Hogan, Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt and the CEO of Signaturecare Graeme Croft on the site of a proposed 144-bed aged care centre to be built on land occupied by two former holes on the golf course. Tim Howard

End of year start date likely for aged care home

A 144-bed residential aged care home for South Grafton could begin construction later this year and be operational by the end of 2019, says the company contracted to build and run the facility.

The CEO of Signaturecare, Graeme Croft, was in Grafton yesterday for a site visit by the Federal Aged Care Minister, Ken Wyatt.

Mr Croft said planning for the home next to the Grafton District Golf Club course was well advanced.

"We are just waiting for the State Government to agree to a compatibility report, which is with the minister now,” Mr Croft said.

"Our planners are well advanced with drawing up the plans for the site.”

Mr Croft said construction would be done with local companies.

The plans for the site, which was once two holes on the Grafton Golf Club course, have been controversial with the golf club originally planning to sub-divide the site as a residential development.

There had been opposition from neighbours to that sub-division, but there were no protests when the minister, company officers and golf club members met there yesterday.

The CEO of Signaturecare Graeme Croft, right, explains plans for a new 144-bed aged care home proposed for South Grafton to the Member for Page Kevin Hogan, left and Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt.
The CEO of Signaturecare Graeme Croft, right, explains plans for a new 144-bed aged care home proposed for South Grafton to the Member for Page Kevin Hogan, left and Federal Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt. Tim Howard

Mr Wyatt said the Signaturecare development was important with the ageing of the Australian population, particularly in regional areas.

"It becomes the hub, not only for the people here in Grafton, but for those communities who border around Grafton, where there is no aged care facilities,” he said.

The minister said the economic opportunities arising from these developments were equally important for the community.

"It create jobs, it creates opportunities for local providers to supply the materials and resources.

"The other thing I think is good is the local tradies get the benefit having the organisation approach it at different times when they need particular jobs being done.”

The Federal Government has committed itself to $9.36million of recurrent funding for the Grafton facility, of which $6.5million would be for wages.

Mr Wyatt had a full program for his visit to Grafton. He began the day with a visit to the Whiddon Group facility in Grafton where he launched the organisation's HenPower project and took part in an intergenerational food program.

Member for Page Kevin Hogan with Minister for Aging Ken Wyatt look at
Member for Page Kevin Hogan with Minister for Aging Ken Wyatt look at "Mischief" got up close to "Mischief”, one of three new chickens opened as part of Whiddon Aged Care's Creative Aging program. "Through comedy, art, music, dance, cooking, storytelling, pet therapy and caring for chickens, homes like this are sweeping away stereotypes about life in a residential care facility,” Minster Wyatt said. "Creative Aging boosts residents' sense of accomplishment and confidence and has been shown to improve both physical and mental health. It's also wonderful to see how it links seniors with primary and high school students.” Creative Ageing includes the VintageBites intergenerational cooking and video program and the award-winning HenPower program, where residents come together as a community to care for hens. Adam Hourigan

"I am pleased to launch Whiddon's HenPower program at Grafton and join residents and local high school students for a VintageBites session,” he said.

"Whiddon's creative ageing programs bring important wellbeing benefits to residents and the opportunity for lifelong learning, so senior Australians can continue to grow their skills, knowledge and creativity.

"I congratulate Whiddon on their new home, which now offers 110 residential aged care places and is supporting approximately 60 new jobs. I applaud their strong focus on keeping residents connected to their communities.”

After that visit, Mr Wyatt met Clarence Village chair Geoff Shepherd and Bulgarr Ngaru Aboriginal Medical Corporation CEO Scott Monaghan.

Mr Wyatt also downplayed the significance of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's 30th consecutive lost Newspoll.

Losing 30 Newspolls was a benchmark Mr Turnbull used to topple former PM Tony Abbott in 2015.

"Polls are often focussed when there might be a critical issue that impacts on people at the time,” he said.

"It was refreshing to look at The Australian this morning to look at what the issues were for each of those consecutive polls.

"They do have an impact on the way people respond to governments, but often, as you see in the past, polls give an indication of a direction but on election day people come back to who it is who will deliver leadership, who will deliver the outcomes the nation is seeking.”