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31 March 2020
Hundreds of additional individual-living units for older people vulnerable to homelessness are the centrepiece of The Salvation Army’s new national agenda for aged care. The new agenda, says The Salvation Army’s Colonel Mark Campbell, provides “... renewed focus on serving the most vulnerable people in our society — ageing Australians who find themselves homeless or financially vulnerable”.
Four new residential centres will be established to provide up to 200 individual units for older people identified as homeless or in danger of homelessness. The new centres will be built in capital cities or large regional centres, depending on identified need. Two existing centres in Sydney and Melbourne already provide residential aged care living for 160 people.
The number of low-cost rental accommodation units for older Australians will increase from the current 360 units to 700, as well as a substantial increase in the number of people who will receive in-home care, from 480 to 2000.
The new initiatives are in addition to 20 residential aged care centres (nursing homes), seven retirement villages (independent housing, often within nursing home complexes) and one respite (recovery) centre already operating.
The agenda is being driven by a new-look Salvation Army Aged Care unit, led by national director Richard de Haast. Richard started in the role in last year, bringing many years of experience in international hotel management, recruitment and aged care management in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia.
“The role with The Salvation Army continues my lifelong experience of working in customer service,” he says. “I would say that I have definitely had a calling. It’s a calling to serve people.
“With The Salvation Army, I have been given an opportunity to change the way we serve our customers, especially the homeless and vulnerable. I call it muscular Christianity. It’s a call to action. It’s at the heart of what we are as a Salvation Army.”
His personal goal is “to make a difference”.
“In The Salvation Army, we have the ability and opportunity to make a difference for elderly people. Providing a home and a community for older Australians is more than just giving them a bed. It’s about giving them belonging.
“In aged care, your customers actually live with you. Our job is to go on the journey with them; to show them that they are unique and that we want to provide the best care possible for them.”