All aged care providers should follow North East facility upgrades: MP

ON TRACK: Beechworth Health Service board president Katie Warner, Lynne Oliver, Ballarat MP Sharon Knight and BHS CEO Mark Ashcroft at the construction site converting ensuites into private bathrooms. Picture: MARK JESSER
ON TRACK: Beechworth Health Service board president Katie Warner, Lynne Oliver, Ballarat MP Sharon Knight and BHS CEO Mark Ashcroft at the construction site converting ensuites into private bathrooms. Picture: MARK JESSER

All aged care providers should move away from shared facilities for residents, the Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Human Services Sharon Knight believes.

The Ballarat MP visited the Beechworth Health Service on Monday, where works are underway to convert 12 shared ensuites into 24 single bathrooms.

“I can’t tell you how many bathrooms have been converted to single (across the state), but I can say my hope is that all of them will be,” she said.

“For me it’s about privacy, dignity and people being entitled to the same amenities that they have had in life, in death, and even more so.

“When you’re coming to the end of your life, it’s so important you have the people who love you around you, and that you have staff who care for you around you.

“It’s incredibly meaningful to these people and to their families.”

Beechworth resident Lynne Oliver is among the family members of residents living at Acacias and Stringybark Lodge units.

It's about privacy, dignity and people being entitled to the same amenities that they have had in life, in death

MP Sharon Knight

Her 91-year-old mother Roma Henningham, who is blind, moved in 18 months ago.

“The shared bathroom was the only thing she ever said was an issue,” Ms Oliver said.

“Because she is blind, she doesn’t know which things in the bathroom are hers, and sometimes residents would forget to lock the door and walk in on each other.

“Like what Sharon said – the changes are about dignity and understanding the needs of the aged.

“This facility is great and she (Roma) is really looking forward to the new bathroom.”

Ms Oliver was behind an idea to install decals simulating a bookcase on the doors which once led to the bathrooms – now a construction site – to ensure residents do not get confused.

The works, enabled by a $400,000 state government grant awarded in 2015, are scheduled to be completed by the middle of next year.

Beechworth Health Service chief executive Mark Ashcroft thanked the board for their work on the project and his staff for how they have supported residents already through the transition.

“Nothing happens without everybody and operationally the service team are doing an enormous job to make sure no-one is disrupted,” he said.