Touriandi Lodge – Bingara’s success story

October 21, 2011

Twenty years ago today, (October 19, 1991) Phillip Charters won firstprize in Bingara’s second Frail Aged Hostel raffle.The second raffle was the culmination of the Hostel Committee’s drive to raise $500,000 to build what was to become Touriandi Lodge.

The first raffle,which was drawn in April, 1990 was won by Andrew Legg. Both raffls had as first prize a Subaru Brumby utility which was paid for using some of the raffle monies. On January 5, 1992 tenders were called for the job of constructing the facility for which the community had worked for more than four years.

It had been a long road for the Frail Aged Hostel Committee and its fund raising sub-committee. The move towards a hostel in Bingara was due to the foresight of the Hospital Board which saw the need for such a facility in the community. A public meeting was called by the Hospital Board’s Hostel Steering Committee, led by Peter Turnbull, to gauge community support for a hostel for the frail and aged.

More than 60 people attended that meeting in August, 1988 resolving to elect a committee to work towards building a Frail Aged Hostel in Bingara.  That first committee saw Peter Turnbull elected Chairman, Nancy Capel elected Vice Chairman, David Muir elected Secretary, Judy Mack elected Treasurer and Chris East, Ross Baker and Evelyn Brown elected Committee members. The local Country Women’s Association made the firstdonation to the project of $500.

In November, 1988 the Hostel Committee began a waiting list of people wanting to move into the accommodation in the near future. As it turned out, they had four years to wait until sufficient funds were raised to build the hostel. The need for the hostel was emphasised by the 1986 census which recorded, according to Peter Turnbull who was quoted in the Advocate in November 1988, that Bingara had 341 people over the age of 65 who would be needing care in the future.

Current Touriandi Lodge Board Chairman, Kevin Hansen told the Advocate that the need for the proposed facility was highlighted around 2001 when families in town had to send relatives to neighbouring towns like Narrabri and Inverell for care. Mr Hansen recalled a local fam-ily who had one parent in a care facility in Narrabri and the other parent in a similar facility in Glen Innes.

“At that time it was clear that the lodge would fulfil a local need, providing care and accommodation for family members who could continue to live within their support network.”

In January, 1990 the Federal Government provided $350,880 in a grant to the Hostel Committee. The Advocate Editor at the time urged residents not to rest on the basis of the grant, writing “The announcement of the Commonwealth funding for the hostel does not mean that the community does not have to raise money. The building of the hostel is expected to cost in the vicinity of $500,000 leaving about $150,000 for Bingara people to find.

Funds were raised in all sorts of ways by lots of different people. The Touriandi Lodge – Bingara’s success story fund raising sub committee sold raffle tickets in Bingara as well as other towns, including Tamworth and as far away as Ballina.

Many people from the local community donated in many different ways. A prime steer was donated for auction, a Charity Ball with a Charity Queen and Princess was held, the Lions Club made the hostel its major project, donating $15,000 to the fund in May, 1990. The Sporting Club hosted Trivia Nights, while the committee worked on, holding street stalls, catering at sales and finding other ways to raise money.

In the August 8, 1990 edition of the Bingara Advocate, fund raising sub-committee Chairman, Nancy Capel thanked a long list of people and organisations who had donated funds, cooking and handcrafts to be raffled, held art shows, cut wood, and generally worked in all kinds of ways to generate proceeds to donate to the fund. At the end of the 1990 financal year, nearly $47,500 had been raised in the previous 12 months.

As 1991 wore on, funds continued to trickle in but it was becoming obvious that the fundraisers were tiring. The second Subaru raffle tickets were selling slowly, with the draw being postponed twice.

Finally, the end was in sight, with tenders called for the project in July, 1991.

However, in September all plans were “put on hold” for 12 months when the State Government proposed that Bingara’s Frail Aged Hostel should be absorbed into a new concept called Multi Purpose Centres (MPC).

Hostel Committee Chairman, Peter Turnbull told the Annual General Meeting in that year that “there are obvious savings if we combine the services (with the hospital). Only one major kitchen would be needed and no live-in staff would be required in the hostel if it were attached to the present hospital. There would be substantial savings in building costs, which would allow dramatic reductions in entry contributions or loans for residents,” he said.

“That was a very frustrating time,” Peter Turnbull told the Advocate, “The whole idea for Touriandi was that it should provide, as much as possible, a home like environment for residents. It became clear to the committee that being part of an MPC just didn’t fit with our vision for Touriandi. So, we decided to just push ahead with the project.”

On January 5, 1992 tenders were again called for he construction of Touriandi. Ten tenders were received ranging from $429,937 to $587,903. Wheeler, Rice and Associates of Armidale were awarded the job. In July, 1992 Bingara’s Radiance Club presented Peter Turnbull with a cheque for $15,000 which was, according to the Advocate, “to ensure Bingara’s Frail Aged Hostel is furnished and equipped and opened free of debt.”

This goal was indeed achieved, with entry contributions covering the small gap between funds raised and the cost of the project. Construction of Touriandi Lodge was completed in November, 1992 and was officiallyo pened on Australia Day, 1993 with Lee-Ann Lynch being appointed the first Supervisor.

The building of Touriandi Lodge was a triumph for the Bingara community.

Peter Turnbull told the Advocate that he regarded it as “a very rewarding project. Everybody was involved, the committee worked hard together to achieve a wonderful result.” The range of ways found to raise money was extraordinary, with all sections of the community contributing.

During the time that funds were being raised for Touriandi, an impressive range of other organisations in Bingara continued to operate. Then as now, there were plenty of opportunities to devote one’s time and energy to the activities of the town.

Organisations like the Pony Club, the United Hospitals Auxiliary, the Historical Society, the Fish Hatchery, the Spastic Centre, Landcare, Double B Beef, Bingara Central School Council, Meals on Wheels, the Show Society and the town and district’s various sporting bodies, were all busy with their own projects, which are reported in the pages of the Bingara Advocate.

Touriandi Lodge has continued to grow with the on-going dedication and support from the Bingara community.

Compliments of The Bingara Advocate

Article 2 – Expansion of Touriandi into the 21st century.

Touriandi Lodge commenced operation in December, 1992 with 12 rooms for residents, a respite room and the supervisor’s quarters. The first resident, Ollie Edwards moved into the facility on December 3, 1992. In the next week Essie Mack, May Mack, Maude McCoy, Gwen Drewitt, Max and Lou Smith also became residents. The first Supervisor was Lee-Ann (Lucy) Lynch. She was assisted by staff members Joy King, Kate Hindmarsh, Marilyn Dixon and Pam Alsop.

Anne Withers was appointed supervisor in 1994. At that time the supervisor’s position was all about “multi-tasking”, according to Mrs Withers, who is still in charge as Manager of Touriandi, commenting to the Advocate that she has “grown with the facility”.

The demand for accommodation kept increasing as more and more ageing people from Bingara and the surrounding area sought to move to Touriandi. In 1995 the supervisor’s quarters were turned into two more residents’ rooms.

A serious threat to the independent governance of Touriandi was identified at the end of 1996. A letter to the Advocate dated December 17, signed by the residents, staff and board of Touriandi, stated that they were “extremely concerned with the Government’s sinister attempt to amalgamate aged care facilities into Multi Purpose Services. This means a takeover of community run aged care facilities who have worked…to develop excellent living conditions for our aged residents.” The letter went on to explain that the government’s model would involve eliminating local Boards of Management, pooling their funds and assets and having staff employed under a Public Hospital Award. “Aged care facilities that have been built up through the dedication of local communities would become part of the NSW Department of Health’s capital stock” the letter stated.

The public outcry must have been sufficient to avert this particular takeover. However, in 1997 a new Aged Care Act passed through parliament. According to Mrs Withers, the act changed the philosophy of facilities like Touriandi. “From then on we had to work with an accreditation agency and ‘Aged Care in Place’ became the endorsed way, with the government becoming focused on community care and keeping people in their own homes for as long as they wish to be there,” she said.

The new act also addressed the accessibility of aged care, ensuring that funding was distributed equitably across the sector while also assisting small, isolated facilities in rural and remote areas. The funding, user charges and regulatory arrangements heralded “the sustained delivery of high quality residential aged care services into the future” the press release said.

Touriandi has always placed great importance on maintaining pleasant surroundings for not only residents but all who visit the facility. Jim Mack is credited with establishing the first gardens as soon as the original facility was opened. His good work was continued over the ensuing years by many different people.

In September, 1997 Touriandi won the Public Building Garden Award in the annual Garden Competition. This win reflected the generous input of the community, including the Bingara Garden Club, Touriandi’s gardener at the time, Chris Butler and of course, the residents. Keen gardeners and residents, Essie Mack and Mavis Sargeant received special mention for their own gardens at the facility that year.

Touriandi continued to prosper, gaining funding for further expansion in 1999 with the addition of two new residents’ rooms and a new respite room, as well as the purchase of a staff vehicle. A new computer system had been installed and work was underway towards achieving accreditation. Documents outlining policies, practices, procedures, a Business Plan and a Strategic Plan all had to be developed in order to comply with the new regulations associated with accreditation. Touriandi had to be able to demonstrate high quality care, a safe building and a commitment to protecting residents’ rights.

Gaining accreditation was a high priority for the staff of Touriandi. It was critical to the future of the facility, as accreditation was directly linked to government funding. Services which had not achieved accreditation by January, 2001would be ineligible for further funding.

The Minutes from the Annual General Meeting of the Touriandi Board of Management held in November, 2000 state that Chairman, David Muir considered “the highlight of the year has been achieving accreditation, following inspection in March this year.” Mr Muir went on to say that “We must constantly be aware of the necessity for continuous improvement in all areas of our operation.” With a bouquet for the staff, Mr Muir commented that “the stability of the staff is very reassuring for our residents and there is no doubt we are very fortunate to have such an excellent supervisor and staff.”

The following year (October 2001) saw the Bingara community and the Touriandi Board divided as to whether Touriandi should be linked by a passageway or similar structure to a new Multi Purpose Service planned for the town. According to the Advocate, Mrs Withers and the staff of Touriandi were opposed to the link on the grounds that Touriandi was the home of the residents and not part of the hospital. Nor were they in favour of losing one of Touriandi’s sitting areas. Kevin Hansen and Peter Pankhurst were also opposed to the link.

Board Chairman, David Muir, wrote an impassioned letter to the editor of the Advocate appealing for a compromise “in good grace” to avoid Bingara being “passed over for a new health service because of disagreements within the community and service providers.” The opposition prevailed and no link has been built between Touriandi and the hospital.

The most recent expansion, named the Willow Wing, was completed in August 2009, having taken 18 months to build. This latest extension has been the most ambitious project undertaken by the Board, increasing the size of the facility by more than 50%. It was financed through extensive fund raising by the Board and staff of Touriandi, with the support of the citizens of Bingara. The funds contributed by Touriandi were matched by the government on a dollar for dollar basis, meaning a grant was received in excess of $1 million.

The extension reflected the increasing community demand and government funding for dementia care, while fulfilling industry requirements for facilities like Touriandi. Board Chairman, Kevin Hansen, who has been in the position since 2005, told the Advocate that “We went down the dementia path because there was no facility around, the funds were available and the future clientele was guaranteed.”

The extension became a nine permanent and one respite room low care dementia facility with its own servery and substantial living space incorporated with the dining area. The existing lounge room was enlarged, while additions were made to provide an office for the Care Manager, a staff Common Room, as well as a computer network room and a commercial laundry. A new covered drop off area and entrance to Touriandi was built, providing better access for the elderly, as well as an attractive introduction to the facility.

The first residents moved into their rooms in August 20, 2009. Coincidentally, on the same day Touriandi Incorporated became the company, Touriandi Limited.

The priority given to aged care by successive governments has seen major changes effected at Touriandi. Originally, the concept was to provide residential care for people who couldn’t be by themselves at home, but were able to live independently. In 1997 the new Aged Care Act meant that philosophy had to change. The government became focused on community care and keeping people in their own homes for as long as possible, which meant a change in the level of care people coming to Touriandi required. The level of care became higher and the original building had to be modified to meet certification requirements. The Act also meant that Touriandi had to work with industry accreditation agencies.

From the very beginning Touriandi’s hostel committee, which became a Board of Directors in 1992, has continued to operate as an independent body, fiercely committed to remaining that way. Mr Hansen told the Advocate that “It is important that the community owns the facility because then you are in control of your facility.” From the very early days of fundraising to build the facility, to the most recent extensive additions, Touriandi has never borrowed money to achieve its goals. Indeed, the dementia wing has been built with a government grant and a significant injection of funds from accumulated capital. Mr Hansen said “It is to this community’s credit that we have had such expansion with no debt.”

Touriandi now has 26 permanent residents’ rooms and one respite room. All the rooms are occupied and there is a waiting list. Touriandi Ltd employs 27 members of staff and is actively engaged with the Vocational Education Training program through the schools, which gives young people the opportunity to experience a career in Aged Care.

Government funding as a base daily rate is provided according to each resident’s assessed care needs. Touriandi has no input into this rate or the assessment of assets. The Department sets the fee, based on information from Centrelink and Veterans’ Affairs.

As in the early days, the community continues to assist Touriandi in many different ways. According to Mrs Withers, “We wouldn’t be here without the community and we value that good working relationship. The Garden Club has helped us over the years financially and physically with garden design; the Lions Club and Apex when it was operating, both made donations, Church groups and the CWA visit regularly, as do the pre-school and playgroups. They all interact with the residents, which brightens everyone’s day.” Mrs Withers went on to say that Touriandi has a wide range of regular visitors and helpers who make a wonderful contribution to life at Touriandi. “Community entertainers visit on a regular basis. We have a number of volunteers who come to play cards, read newspapers, shop, provide transport and generally interact with the residents. The Shire Council is very supportive, doing earthworks, maintaining the driveway, slashing the paddock and assisting with various functions. “We are extremely grateful to them all,” Mrs Withers said.

Mr Hansen told the Advocate that “Touriandi has always received marvellous support from the community and our fundraising committee, Friends of Touriandi, (formed in 2007 by long standing Board member, Brenda Pankhurst), should be commended for the outstanding work they have done and continue to do.”

Over the years, the Friends of Touriandi Committee, which according to Chairman, Mrs Pankhurst, “is a loosely organised group of relatives, friends and supporters of Touriandi”, has raised tens of thousands of dollars for the facility. Through street stalls and catering for all kinds of functions, the group has been able to purchase “extras” for the residents like outdoor furniture, curtains, water coolers, televisions and shower chairs. Recently, the group financed an excursion by bus to Copeton Dam for a residents’ day out. It has also been successful in gaining grants through such varied sources as Woolworth’s CWA grants ($3000) for a garden for the Willow Wing and $1200 for the front garden through ABC Radio’s Community Open Gardens grant. Friends of Touriandi is currently working on providing new curtains for eight more rooms, with labour generously provided from within the group.

What does the future hold for Touriandi? According to Mrs Withers “viability” is the biggest con­cern. “Access to staffing is one of our issues. We will always be able to fill our rooms,” Mrs Withers said. “If we had another five rooms, we might not have to increase the staffing level.”

Mrs Withers’ other concern is the way the government “keeps shifting the goal posts”. In the meantime, Mrs Withers said that “the founders would never have foreseen the expansion of the facility. We are very proud of Touriandi. It is a wonderful resource for the community. We have a caring, dedicated and supportive staff with a genuine concern for the residents. It is nice to be able to provide quality care to members of our community, many of whom have given so much to this community over the years.”