IRT will close and demolish two complexes at its Woonona aged care home, temporarily adding to the already crippling shortage of aged care beds in the Illawarra.
The move follows a review of the site which found two of the 1970s-era buildings were not up to scratch.
The Ribbonwood and Blueberry Ash buildings will be demolished and redeveloped, with IRT already in contact with residents and their families to discuss next moves, CEO Patrick Reid said.
"We have started meeting with residents and their representatives individually to understand their personal needs and preferences, to determine suitable relocations and the best way to proceed with the transition," Mr Reid said.
The decision will mean the loss of 50 beds across the Ribbonwood and Blueberry Ash complexes. IRT is also working with overseas workers brought in to address staff shortages in aged care that have been billeted in parts of the complex to find alternative accommodation.
Currently there are 89 patients in Illawarra-Shoalhaven hospitals awaiting a residential aged care place, according to figures from the Local Heath District.
A plan to move patients out of hospitals in the Illawarra was announced in July this year to begin in the "next few months". Margaret Martin, Illawarra-Shoalhaven Local Health District executive director clinical operations said the plan was in its final stages and would be operational "within the next month".
"As part of the program ISLHD staff will work within a newly refurbished section of Figtree Private, where they will support the safe discharge of patients from hospital, meaning patients will wait for nursing home placement in a more appropriate setting.
The future total number of beds at IRT Woonona will depend on the final masterplan which is yet to be completed. An IRT spokesperson said the final design would respond to the changing preferences of older Australians.
"IRT wants to support this desire by delivering a model that offers age-appropriate accommodation that is surrounded by a range of support services including all levels of home care," the spokesperson said.
"So rather than replacing Ribbonwood with another aged care building, we will be proposing to develop a community that enables people to live independently for longer and supports them through all stages of ageing."
Mr Reid said the "vision" for IRT Woonona was for more space and opportunities for older people at all stages of ageing.
"We're excited to make positive changes at IRT Woonona that will deliver a more vibrant environment and foster close connections with the surrounding community."
The project footprint does not include Flametree and Camellia Lodge residents and services for these residents will continue as normal.
IRT will submit a development application for the demolition works to Wollongong City Council, followed by a plan for the redevelopment of the site.
Demolition of the older buildings is not expected to occur before September 2024.
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