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Issue #1630      March 12, 2014

Closure exposes vulnerable older people

The sudden announcement of the closure of the Weighbridge nursing home, which cares for vulnerable mentally-unwell older people, has caught residents, their families and staff by surprise, according to the nurses’ union.

“This crucial, 30-bed psychogeriatric home, which houses many long-term patients, is a vital service in Victoria’s grossly under-resourced mental health sector,” said Pip Carew, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (Vic Branch) assistant secretary.

The Flemington nursing home staff were told verbally of the closure, planned for June 30, at staff handovers. North West Mental Health, part of Melbourne Health, has not yet released specific details regarding staff cuts or accommodation for the residents.

One source suggested they would be transferred to Westside Lodge at Sunshine Hospital, which is a 30-bed facility with 10 vacant beds, but this is yet to be confirmed.

“This is total chaos,” said Ms Carew. “We are to lose 30 crucial specialist mental health beds and the residents will be crammed into Sunshine. There has been no discussion with the stakeholders, no organisation or plan. The patients are the bystanders in a political game.

“Nurses, residents and their families expect the responsible Minister, Mary Wooldridge, to take a frontline role on an issue of this magnitude.

“This follows the disgraceful Christmas Eve release of a mental health report, based on a previous report, that said it would lead to a further report. Meanwhile people with real needs are abandoned and more beds disappear,” said Ms Carew.

Next article – Hands off Ukraine and Venezuela

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