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.
- The Tempus retirement village plans for 140 independent living units, 30 assisted living units and a 44-bed nursing home
- The east coast of Tasmania has an aging population, with a third of residents aged over 65
- The developers of the new retirement village say they hope to attract more healthcare workers to the region
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.”
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.
He said the local Swansea GP clinic currently had two doctors and would look to expand to four GPs once the village was built.
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 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.”
Young families welcome too
She said there was an opportunity for healthcare jobs to be created by the developments.
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.
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.