The West Coast District Health Board has today announced to staff that it intends to proceed with the closure of the Westport-based Dunsford Ward rest home and hospital level aged residential care facility by 1 March 2018.
Since releasing a proposal to close the facility in December, the DHB has been talking to residents, their next of kin, staff, contractors and unions. The closure was signalled two years ago following months of conversations and engagement with the Buller community on the direction of travel for older persons’ health services for the region.
Many of the residents have already moved to O’Conor Home in Westport, or other facilities. There are plans in place for those who are still in Dunsford Ward to transition to their chosen new homes by the end of February.
A staff consultation period has finished and the DHB is now discussing possible redeployment or redundancy options with around 20 permanent staff. These staff will continue to be employed through to Friday 9 March.
The DHB has increased resourcing of community-based services, including home-based support services, more options for respite care and expanding diversional therapy into the community.
“Also, as an outcome of this proposal, we are now setting up a system where we will organise a caregiver to ‘sleepover’ at someone’s home where there is a short-term need for support. And we are setting up Community Rehab and Flexible Integrated Rehabilitation Support Team (FIRST) initiatives to support people at home,” West Coast DHB General Manager Philip Wheble says.
About 30 vacant or new positions including roles for registered and enrolled nurses and support workers have been identified across the West Coast, with five roles vacant in Buller. Dunsford Ward staff with the skills and experience required including any relevant qualifications will be automatically shortlisted for roles they express an interest in, and be considered along with any other candidates.
“We appreciate how professional the staff have been in continuing to make our Dunsford residents the focus of their time and care, while staff have been going through this consultation process,” Mr Wheble says. “We will be working with staff to assist them in efforts to find future employment - this includes CV and interview technique training and assistance, and we have alerted other Buller health providers about the availability of staff.
“We realise this will be a difficult time for some staff, and have organised counselling services to be on hand.”