Eviction looms for elderly

07. 9NEWS

• Gail Boyle (right) says it’ll be tough finding accommodation for her mother Mary Wood when Hillcrest in North Fremantle closes in four months. Photo by Steve Grant

NEARLY 80 elderly people are scrambling to find somewhere to live because Hillcrest home in North Fremantle is to close for redevelopment.

Regis Aged Care told residents and families on Monday the home will close July 1 for up to two years while it’s completely demolished and rebuilt.

The company plans to add 30 beds to the 79-bed facility, CEO Ross Johnston said in a press release.

“The heritage-listed building on the site will also be fully restored to its original glory and the heritage tree will remain as part of extensive landscaping works,” he said.

In a letter to residents, WA operations manager Brett Shea says they’ll be given “extensive support” in finding alternative accommodation.

But Regis itself has a shortfall and most other operators also have long waiting lists, causing great concern for families.

‘Oh yes, I just thought I would be here for the rest of my days’

In documents provided to families, the company only promises to cover relocation costs to other Regis homes: a move to another organisation must be negotiated.

Mary Wood has lived at Hillcrest for five years and says the decision took her by surprise.

“Oh yes, I just thought I would be here for the rest of my days,” she told the Herald.

She’s upset the move will take her away from her daughter Gail Boyle, whose house she can see from her window, but she’s hopeful of scoring a place in Regis’s Hollywood facility in Nedlands.

Her daughter isn’t overly confident, saying many displaced residents are also applying for Hollywood. She’s made a couple of early calls to other aged care operators, only to be told they’ve got waiting lists.

“I tried Pilgram and they said they have a couple of years’ wait at least.

“It’s quite stressful having that deadline—it’s not that far away given the difficulty finding places.”

Ms Boyle is also upset as her aunt only recently moved into Hillcrest’s nursing home, and now keeping the pair nearby may be impossible.

The Herald understands Regis has about 40 spare beds throughout WA, but won’t hold them specifically for Hillcrest residents. The company didn’t return calls.

Fremantle state Labor MP Simone McGurk says residents and families will struggle to find new places.

“Aged care places are incredibly difficult to come by, and so I hope that proper consideration has been given to the residents affected by the changes to the facility.”

Meanwhile, she’d been contacted by a Hillcrest resident with concerns about the redevelopment, saying the new design reduces passive surveillance and will alienate residents from the neighbourhood.

by STEVE GRANT

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