Terang residents are pleading with anyone who will listen to save May Noonan, the aged care home the community helped build.
Terang residents and former staff members say they are heartbroken, devastated, disappointed, stunned and saddened Lyndoch Living has opted to close May Noonan as early as July.
They vented their feelings at a meeting in the town on Monday. A crowd of 47 said the community's "joint effort" was instrumental in May Noonan's development as locals fund-raised and tradespeople helped build it so the town's elderly residents were looked after in their twilight years.
Lyndoch's board chair Sue Cassidy and acting chief executive officer made the announcement on Wednesday, May 31 citing poor occupancy and chronic staffing difficulties.
Ms Cassidy insisted there was no target closure date for the facility but The Standard understands May Noonan management is working towards shutting as soon as mid-July.
She assured residents the home would remain open until everyone found new accommodation.
Terang's Peter Heffernan said the imminent closure was especially sad because of the community's vital role in its establishment.
"The whole community would have put a lot of money into it in those days," Mr Heffernan said. "They were big donations. The community wanted a retirement village for its people.
"It was built by the community, that's why it's so disappointing. It's a real pity for the district."
Mr Heffernan said he'd like to see another provider come in to run it and increase numbers. "I think they've taken the easy way out," he said. "They say there's low numbers and I think that's just a cop out."
Des McKinnon said the outpouring came at Terang Probus Club's meeting on Monday, attended by 47 of its 70 members.
"All these people that are here, it's their future," Mr McKinnon said. "It affects the businesses and the families of the people if they have to travel or go elsewhere. Where do people go now?"
Some residents, including retired nurses Rosalie Edge and Margaret Wickham, called for the centre to become a low-care hostel as it was in the beginning. They want another provider or government to step in.
"Make it low care because there's a lot of people who need a roof over their head and someone to cook and clean for them but don't need to be lifted in and out of bed," Gerdy McCormack said.
"It's another thing going in our town," resident Nola Davey said. "We're slowly losing things. It's just slowly going down and yet we still have plenty of young people around.
"It's devastated the town. It's devastated everybody and I don't know what's going to happen. I really don't."
Terang resident Anne O'Neill said she didn't know what would happen to her 60-year-old daughter Nora, who has a disability and had her heart set on living at May Noonan.
"Now we have nowhere to go," Mrs O'Neill said. "We have to try and change her mind that she's not going to May Noonan."
Margaret Wickham was a head nurse at May Noonan for 16 years and also managed Camperdown's Merindah Lodge before her retirement.
"When I was at May Noonan we always had a waiting list," Mrs Wickham said. "We had a family environment and people were involved in so many things. It was just lovely. The community paid for it all. We had committees who would go out. If we wanted things we'd raise money.
"When I was there there was a lot of PCAs (personal care assistants). They didn't want registered staff but now the Albanese government is pushing registered staff on every shift and you can't afford that when there's already staff shortages."
Thelma Miller began as a cleaner and trained as a PCA while she worked there for 15 years and loved it. "Everybody put so much into it," Mrs Miller said. "I'm very sad."
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