Rest-home to expand due to demand

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Touch up . . . West Otago Health Trust chairman Will Byars checks his paintbrush in preparation for a planned expansion of the trustÂ’s Ribbonwood Country Home aged care facility in Tapanui. PHOTO: RICHARD DAVISON

A Tapanui health provider is hoping to raise funds to extend its community-owned rest-home.

West Otago Health Trust chairman Will Byars said the trust’s Ribbonwood Country Home facility was opened in 2014 after a “massive” fundraising effort from the local community.

The facility had since proven so popular that an expansion to its current 14 beds was now necessary, he said.

“[The] occupancy rate over the past three years has been close to 99% capacity, which has resulted in having to turn potential residents away.

“In addition, this high occupancy rate has resulted in a reduced ability to provide short-term care for respite and end-of-life support. This is a much-needed service in the area, and one which West Otago Health always aimed to provide.

“We want to future-proof the facility and, with an ageing population, the current bed capacity needs to be increased to meet demand.”

A further four bedrooms and a lounge were planned, and would be added to the George & Caroline Edgar Memorial Building, Mr Byars said.

The project estimate was $980,000, of which $700,000 was already secured in grants, reserves and donations.

A further $330,000 commercial loan was also in place, which the trust hoped to pay off through a variety of fundraising efforts.

“We first started this conversation a year ago, and building costs are up by an estimated 15% since that time, so speed is of the essence.”

A stock scheme was under way, and naming sponsor rights were also available, he said.

Design and build of the extension would be conducted by Cook Brothers Construction Company and Oakley Grey Architect Syndicate, who together built the original facility.

“This team was responsible for the design and build of the original project which was completed on time, on budget, and to a high standard. The design process will begin in the next couple of months, with a plan to commence building in early 2022.”

Mr Byars said he had confidence the West Otago community would step up to support the project once more.

“Last time we raised $1.2million through local sponsorship. There’s a big engine in this community, and we’re proudly parochial.

“We want to remain proud of what the trust provides for the community here, under its community-owned structure.”

He said a fundraising committee was being formed by an “enthusiastic group” of residents.

“I’d invite anyone interested in helping on the committee, or through sponsorship, to get in touch.”

Mr Byars can be contacted on 27 485-2012.