Castlemaine Health will soon publish the feedback gathered from residents across the shire during its community consultation. Over 900 people submitted their views through surveys and in discussions.
Ian Fisher, Chief Executive Officer, said: “Overwhelmingly, people appreciated being given an opportunity to talk about the future of their health service. We know that people really value Castlemaine Health and believe it provides an outstanding, personal and high quality service. People feel fortunate to have it close by and many have moved here because of it.”
Carolyn Wallace, Board Chair, said: “Castlemaine Health has struggled over the years with a lack of master plan to steer improvements and expansion. It’s a highly rated service but it’s being undermined by ageing facilities, which are expensive to maintain. We’re projected to spend around $40 million in the next 10 to 15 years on capital expenditure to ensure our current facilities remain safe and compliant to building regulations and standards.”
The hospital and aged care service’s long-term position is currently unsustainable due to these capital costs and increased maintenance expenditure. As the population grows and ages the demand for services is expected to increase significantly. Community feedback was wide ranging but focused on several main themes. These were access, aged care, transport, community health and wellness, difficulties with the current site and future services needed locally.
Ian said: “The community really wants to see investment and modernisation in aged care. We heard time and time again that the shire wants more diverse and higher quality care for our older family members and loved ones. That people put off decisions to go into care because the dated environment is not acceptable to them. We want to change that.”
People also fed back their dissatisfaction with transport and parking. It was clear that those with the most challenging mobility issues – the older, frail and disabled – are the least able to access the health services due to the physical terrain.
The community also wants to see a more seamless connection between community health and ‘hospital’ services – a greater focus on keeping people well rather than treating them when they’re sick.
Suggestions for future services included chemotherapy, dialysis, dentistry, a hydrotherapy pool to support rehabilitation, and more support for young people with disabilities, mental health issues or high care needs.
Carolyn said: “We heard very clearly that this community does not want to see money or resources wasted. They don’t want to see empty buildings around town or money spent on temporary ‘fixes’. They want a considered, long-term strategy for the future.”
Ian said: “We want to thank everyone who took part. We heard from many people about what was important to them and we now have information from the community to take with us to the government to try and secure the political support we need.”
The feedback report from the consultation will be published by the end of September.