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Australia Aged care development to capitalise on ageing population on east coast of Tasmania

10:11  25 february  2021
10:11  25 february  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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In St Helens, a tourist hotspot on Tasmania 's east coast , locals say job opportunities for young people are limited, and they're losing out to bigger cities. (ABC Northern Tasmania : Fred Hooper). While the east coast was the perfect fit for Ms Sherrey-Dadd, she said there was a lack of opportunity for people looking to move back or relocate to the area. "There's not that level of industry here, so there's a lot of tradies, nurses and teachers; most of my friends fit into one of those categories," Ms Sherrey-Dadd said.

Population ageing is poised to become one of the most significant social transformations of the twenty-first century, with implications for nearly all sectors of society, including labour and financial markets, the. Older persons are increasingly seen as contributors to development , whose abilities to act for the betterment of themselves and their societies should be woven into policies and programmes at all levels. In the coming decades, many countries are likely to face fiscal and political pressures in relation to public systems of health care , pensions and social protections for a growing older population .

a room filled with furniture and a large window: Visualisation of accommodation at the proposed Tempus Village retirement development. (Supplied: Tempus Village) © Provided by ABC NEWS Visualisation of accommodation at the proposed Tempus Village retirement development. (Supplied: Tempus Village)

There are hopes a new retirement village and nursing home on Tasmania's east coast will attract and retain more health workers to the regional area.

There are plans for a multi-million-dollar development on an 18-hectare property called Kelvedon Estate, 4 kilometres south of Swansea.

"The minute I saw the view and the position, I just knew it was exactly right," principal architect John Lewis said.

"To feel that you're living in a country town but with all the amenities that you need and can afford in your latter years."

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With an aging population that continues to grow, our health care system will be changed forever. Are we ready for it? According to the Global Health and Aging report presented by the World Health Organization (WHO), “The number of people aged 65 or older is projected to grow from an estimated 524 WHO attributes the elderly population ’s rapid size increase to a change in the leading cause of death—from infections to chronic noncommunicable diseases—which increased life expectancy.1 These chronic conditions may include hypertension, high cholesterol, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease

Population ageing is an increasing median age in a population due to declining fertility rates and rising life expectancy. Most countries have rising life expectancy and an ageing population (trends that emerged first in developed countries, but which are now seen in virtually all developing countries).

The Tempus retirement village has passed early hurdles after the Glamorgan Spring Bay Council initiated a planning scheme amendment and approved part of the first stage.

Plans include 140 independent living units, 30 assisted living units and in the future, a 44-bed nursing home, including a dementia ward.

"It will go through to high care, so in a sense, it's a mini-hospital, although there won't be operating as such," Mr Lewis said.

"Plus we also have consulting rooms within the communal facilities which will be for visiting specialists, so we'll have podiatrists, skin specialists who'll drop in for a day a fortnight, something like that."

He said the local Swansea GP clinic currently had two doctors and would look to expand to four GPs once the village was built.

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An ageing population can have severe economic impacts. It would put a strain on the national economy, with increased government spending for services like care homes and medical care for the elderly. Many new residential/ care home buildings would have to be built to accommodate the elderly as well as single-floor housing (bungalows). The designs of town centres/urban areas would have to be adapted as well to make them more suitable for older people i.e. building more lifts and having ramps for disabled people to use instead of stairways.

The pace of population ageing is much faster than in the past. All countries face major challenges to ensure that their health and social systems are ready to make the most of this demographic shift. People worldwide are living longer. Older age is also characterized by the emergence of several complex health states that tend to occur only later in life and that do not fall into discrete disease categories. These are commonly called geriatric syndromes. They are often the consequence of multiple underlying factors and include frailty, urinary incontinence, falls, delirium and pressure ulcers.

There are also plans for a medical evacuation helipad, meaning patients are a 15-minute flight from the Royal Hobart Hospital.

The site will also have an 81-seat theatre, function hall, horse stables, communal workshop, playground and cafe which will all be open to the public.

Proponent Les Walden said the plan was to create something a bit different from other retirement villages.

"Some of them are just like ghost towns even though they're supposedly full, we didn't want to reproduce those," he said.

"I'm sure they all do a good job but we wanted to produce something where people could age well, with home services, that's pretty much a unique concept as we understand it."

Mr Walden said the plan was to integrate health services into the local community.

"There'll be medical rooms that people can use," he said.

"We haven't really gone too deeply into that because we need to speak to some of the local experts about that, but we're very, very open to the rest of the community using medical rooms if that becomes possible."

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"We think it will attract other medical professionals, and that's obviously of benefit in medical and economic ways to the community there."

Health care services 'under enormous strain'

Population researcher and demographer Amina Keygan said the population of the east coast was definitely getting older.

"Over the last 20 years, the proportion of those over 65 years in Glamorgan Spring Bay has increased from 19 per cent to 33 per cent of the overall population," she said.

"Comparatively the population of Tasmania as a whole who are over 65 is roughly 20 per cent."

Dr Keygan said retirement villages on the east coast would need to come with supportive infrastructure such as access to medical services to avoid putting a strain on regional health services.

"Our regional health care services are under an enormous strain at the moment, due in part to inabilities to attract and retain health care workers in regional and rural areas," she said.

"This is in part why the Tasmanian health system relies so heavily on fly-in fly-out locums and specialists."

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Young families welcome too

She said there was an opportunity for healthcare jobs to be created by the developments.

"However, attracting a relatively large workforce to the area has its own challenges associated with housing access and affordability, access to transport and education and training facilities for younger families that may relocate to take up employment in the area," Dr Keygan said.

East coast real estate agent Leanne Dann said she hoped more development would mean more health workers would be attracted to the area.

"We would love to see a lot more young families reside here and enjoy the coastal lifestyle," she said.

She said there had been a property boom on the east coast, with land and houses selling about twice as quickly as they used to.

Mr Lewis said employment was something the developers were hoping to boost.

"Because we're not just seasonal, we're not just the holiday market, we're there all the time, we'll be able to offer people long-term careers so that the younger ones can stay here, we hope to train people," she said.

"It's in our interests to have a stable employment base."

The project's current budget is $85 million but will increase by about $40 million when plans for the nursing home are finalised.

The proposed planning amendment, which includes highway access and some construction, will be available for public submissions before it is referred to the Tasmanian Planning Commission.

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