This congregation has a continuing important mission with the elderly, particularly through our involvement in aged care facilities.
“During the course of his ministry at the Wesley Church, Wollongong, Rev Clyde Dominish became increasingly aware of the serious shortage of accommodation and care for the aged in the City of Wollongong and its environs. He had been driving an elderly lady to the Wollongong station to assist her in making the journey to Arncliffe, where she visited her husband in a nursing home. Concerned by the hardship suffered by elderly people separated from loved ones and travelling long distances to visit, he determined to investigate the availability of nursing home beds in the Wollongong area. The 1976 figures indicated that there were 272 beds conveniently situated for 13,542 aged persons in the Wollongong Statistical District. This was an extremely low figure compared with all others areas of New South Wales.” (from From Vision to Reality by Herb and Mary Lewin, Kiama 1989, p3)
From this came the vision of building a nursing home in Wollongong. A Committee of Enquiry was set up in 1979, which resulted in the establishment of the Farmborough Grove Retirement Village Board. A piece of land in Waples Road was identified as a possible site, and with the help of Synod, the land was purchased. At that stage it proved impossible financially to proceed with a nursing home, so plans were drawn up for 20 self-care units. Under the oversight of Vic Evans, the units were finished and stage one was opened on Sunday 14th March 1982 by Mrs May McLeod, and dedicated by Rev Malcolm McLeod, the Moderator of the NSW Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia.
Sadly, during the building of stage 2, Vic Evans died suddenly, and work was completed by Garry Doughty. Over time a further five stages of building has brought the number of self-care units to 102.
Unanderra Nursing Home
The need for a nursing home remained, however. After submissions for a 40-bed home were rejected by the relevant government department, the Farmborough Grove Board was put in touch with an Italian community organisation, Marco Polo, which was also trying to build nursing home facilities. Over two years an agreement and constitution was drawn up with Marco Polo and Unanderra Nursing Home Board was formed. Together with a government grant, funds were raised to build an 80-bed Unanderra Nursing Home.
In October 1988, when the building was about three-quarters complete, Ann Calvert was appointed as Director of Nursing. She was the first, and for a time the only, employed person. It took another 140 volunteers to help with the setting up of the nursing home. Although the nursing home was officially opened on Saturday 17th December 1988, the first residents were not welcomed until a month later.
After seven years of operating a 40-bed hostel, Cordeaux Lodge, was built adjacent to Unanderra Nursing Home and the complex operated as Unanderra Care Services. The hostel provided an intermediate level of care between the self-care units and the Nursing Home, and was funded by moneys from the nursing home and a government grant. Several years later the hostel was extended to 50 beds, again with the assistance of some government funds.
Nareena Homes for the Aged, a complex of 18 Self-care units in Jacaranda Avenue, Figtree was transferred to the Farmborough Grove Retirement Village on 23rd January 1989. A further 18 units were added in 1993.
A new Admnistration Centre, funded jointly by Farmborough Grove and Unanderra Care Services, was constructed on Village land and opened to accommodate both in 2004. About the same time, an adjoining property in Graham Street was purchased by the joint venture and a Day Care Centre built.
The ‘New’ Nursing Home – Farmborough Aged Care Centre
Marco Polo had discovered that the Education Department land immediately opposite the nursing home and village had become available for purchase. They had a vision of a new nursing home and other aged care facilities, including provision for long-term disabled adults. The joint venture purchased the land and, although a disabled adults’ facility did not prove possible, a modern 108 bed nursing home was built, opening in 2005. This facility was formally dedicated by the Moderator, Rev Niall Reid, in 2008
In October 2004, following a program of restructure of UnitingCare NSW/ACT, Farmborough Village Board became Farmborough Local Aged Care Council. This involved the transfer of most operational resonsibilities from Farmborough to unitingCare South Eastern Region.
For many years the relationship between the Uniting Church and Marco Polo had been very harmonious, but after restructures in UnitingCare Ageing, the difficulties of continuing the management of the nursing home and Cordeaux Lodge as a joint venture became apparent. After much negotiation, the joint venture was dissolved on 1st April 2008. Marco Polo took over sole management of the original nursing home and Cordeaux Lodge, with UnitingCare Ageing managing the Farmborough Grove Village, the new 108-bed Aged Care Centre, the Administration Centre and Day Care Centre.
Volunteers and Chaplaincy
Although the joint venture has now been dissolved, the relationship remains strong. There are many Keiraview people involved in volunteering to help feed residents, to staff the kiosk or help with services. Keiraview Congregation continues to maintain and develop our links with Farmborough Grove Village, Nareena Homes, Marco Polo Aged Care Services and the Farmborough Aged Care facility through providing some chaplaincy and volunteer services. This is a long-term ministry to which this congregation is committed.