Lyndoch Living will celebrate the opening of its new $13 million Swinton Wing on Tuesday, despite the COVID-19 pandemic changing the way it will do it.
Residents from the Tomlinson Centre moved into their new home earlier this month with the top floor already full and the lower floor welcoming six new residents this week.
CEO Doreen Power said the building had the capacity to house 43 residents, and 16 of the beds were among 32 new licences Lyndoch Living was granted in the Aged Care Approval Rounds. Ms Power said they were also welcoming couples into the facility.
"This is very different," she said.
The new building comes with a roof top garden where residents can sit and enjoy barbecues and can do their gardening in the raised garden beds.
"Whilst Warrnambool is windy, you don't get that up there. It's very sheltered. It's beautiful," Ms Power said.
"The spaces are lovely. The library. There's a beautiful lounge room that overlooks the Hopkins River. It is state of the art. I'm so proud of this building and what we've achieved and I think it really sets the standard for residential care across Lyndoch."
She said the building was dementia friendly. "They wouldn't know it's dementia friendly. It's built into the environment. They won't get lost. It's all connected," she said.
Ms Power said it was lovely to see the residents settling into their new environment. She said research showed that caring for elderly people in smaller groups reduced the stress of being in aged care.
"We've got smaller spaces, not large open spaces so we can really get people to connect. It's authentic. It's relevant to them," she said.
"We've moved away from that traditional model of shared bedrooms and large communal areas. A lot of thought went into this whole design."
Ms Power said she would have loved to hold tours for the community to show off parts of the new facility, but COVID-19 meant it was not possible.
"This really is setting the scene for aged care. Aged care's getting a bit of a hammering with the Royal Commission with COVID," she said.
"Our vision was to make it healthy living and living well and I think we've achieved it."
Ms Power said Lyndoch was moving ahead with the integrated and health and wellness model with the next phase of the project - the medical centre.
"It's really exciting to finally have phase one of our building works completed."
Ms Power said Lyndoch hoped to start the primary health care centre building early next year.
"All the design is ongoing at the moment," she said.
Ms Power said the new building generated 104 jobs for the community during its construction, and the primary health care construction would generate another 100 jobs.
She said a key strategy was to use local trades and businesses for the building project when she could.
She said they spent two weekends in a row shopping for all the decor at local businesses.
"That was so important. It's that commitment to community," she said.
Ms Power said the official opening of the new building would pay tribute to the past and, in keeping with a tradition, Victoria's governor would do the honours - something that has happened at every opening of any new Lyndoch facility.
"I truly believe that you've got to actually acknowledge the past, understand the present to build on your future," she said.
The virtual opening will be broadcast on Facebook and Youtube and the Lyndoch Living website.
"Due to social distancing we'll be broadcasting the opening throughout the whole organisation for our residents and staff to watch," Ms Power said.
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