STRATHALBYN – A teenager was so moved by the displacement of residents from an aged care home that she took her town’s concerns to the state government.
Imagine if you had to leave your home, how would you feel?Isabella Spencer
Strathalbyn’s Isabella Spencer, 13, wrote to the state health minister about the closure of aged care facility Kalimna Hostel. She also circulated a petition in Strathalbyn, which has more than 700 signatures in favour of re-opening Kalimna.
Country Health SA closed Kalimna last month following changes to the way Building Code of Australia standards are applied for residential aged care.
Safety standards now require doorways and halls to be wide enough for beds to be wheeled out in an emergency. The cost to upgrade the facility would be huge, according to Country Health SA.
Isabella made friends with Kalimna residents when she used to sing at the home with her school.
“Imagine if you had to leave your home, how would you feel? It’s exactly the same with the residents of Kalimna, especially at that age,” Isabella said.
“The town raised money to build Kalimna, so we could raise money to fix it – it’s our building.”
A public meeting at the Strathalbyn Town Hall gave locals a chance to express concerns and last week Isabella met shadow health minister Stephen Wade when he visited Kalimna.
“The fact that a teenager is active in the fight to save aged care accommodation highlights that this issue matters to the broader Strathalbyn community,” Mr Wade said.
“Hundreds attended a community meeting, hundreds more signed Isabella’s petition – the community is demanding they have a say in the future of health services in their region.”
Country Health SA gave residents options to move into Strathalbyn Aged Care facility, as well as aged care facilities in Gumeracha, Mount Pleasant or Mannum.
Isabella was yet to receive a response from state health minister Jack Snelling.
“They should change the laws for Kalimna and other nursing homes like this, because these residents can do nearly everything for themselves and if there is a fire they can get out faster than people in a high care nursing home.
“Kalimna is only a low care nursing home.”
Country Health SA said it worked closely with residents to identify suitable alternative accommodation that met their personal needs and preferences.
While the building could no longer be used as an aged care facility, all other possible options for its future use were being considered.
A meeting about Kalimna and other facilities will be held at the Norwood Town Hall, March 23, at 7.30pm.