Hepburn House: a country home

December 9th, 2022Hepburn House: a country home

PEOPLE driving past Hepburn House over the past months have watched as a large building has taken shape next door.

Words: Donna Kelly

PEOPLE driving past Hepburn House over the past months have watched as a large building has taken shape next door.
The finish date is still a while off, August next year, but manager Dianne Jones was happy to chat last week with The Local’s Donna Kelly about “a very exciting project”.
When finished, the two-storey building will boast a magnificent upstairs 31-bed ‘LGBTI and friends’ wing while downstairs there will be a 15-bed purpose-built memory support unit for those living with dementia.
“Before I arrived here, it had been identified that there was a need for a property to cater for people living with dementia. It is sometimes hard to manage a facility catering for people living with dementia and those who are not. So that was the big driver for this new building,” Dianne said.
“And then when I moved into the town, I realised there was a huge LGBTI community that needed to be catered for as well. So I went and did some research and talked to the elders of the LGBTI community and discovered a lot of the elders were petrified about coming into aged care because of the discrimination they had received most of their lives. You have to remember the laws only changed in Victoria in 1980.
“So, we started out getting the Rainbow Tick which is something that is involved in all of our processes and policies to ensure they are LGBTI inclusive. The last thing we want is for anyone to feel they are not safe coming here, that they are going to be discriminated against.
“And there was a lot of discussion about this LGBTI wing. Is it a form of segregation? But our intention is to never segregate, just ensure that everybody in that wing, whether they are LGBTI or friends, are accepting of people’s choices.”
Dianne said the memory support unit was already “looking amazing”, centred around a huge courtyard with a big open lightwell along with views out the back to the rolling countryside and open areas to ensure clients “felt free” but supported. There’s also a nostalgia kitchen where residents can cook their own meals.
Also in the downstairs area will be Hepburn House’s new gym, theatre and a massive multi-purpose room.
“We really want to engage the community as well, like we have done with the Ageing DisGracefully group. We don’t want people to come into aged care and feel isolated from their community. We want it to be a welcoming space for everyone.”
Back upstairs, the 31-bed LGBTI wing also has those amazing views accompanied by big, private balconies and big communal areas. There’s even a private dining room to dine with friends or family.
The current footprint of Hepburn House and the new building will be connected by a very extended walkway – which includes a staff room on one side and a staff amenities area on the other. So more a building than just a path.
Dianne said all of the rooms in the new building were bigger than the current building, going up from 17 square metres to a roomy 23. And she is just now starting to think about furnishings and décor.
“It is going to look beautiful but I am keeping to a country theme – we are in the country after all. And that is something else people love about Hepburn House – it’s like their country home.”


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