Sixty carers, service providers and other community-minded people came together in Port Macquarie in 1986 to establish Hastings District Respite Care Inc for young people with a disability. A committee appointed a volunteer coordinator to manage the daily operations of the service, with volunteers providing respite for carers.
Hastings District Respite Care Inc came into being as a legal entity in 1987, receiving its initial funding of $27,000 from the Department of Community Services.
In 1989 HDRC received further funding to start the Let’s Link program to provide peer support for young people with disabilities. In 1990-91 we started to support people with dementia, opening our first centre-based service in rented accommodation.
Throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s, HDRC moved several times while continuing to grow as new funding was secured and additional services added.
As the new century dawned, HDRC was growing substantially under the management of its honorary committee. In 2002 we opened our Sherwood Park centre in Port Macquarie for people with dementia.
Extra services required more personnel: Our 14 paid staff and 70 volunteers provided 28,000 hours of centre-based respite care for people with dementia. Among our disability clients, 135 families received a variety of respite packages and 40 youngsters enjoyed Let’s Link support.
Our yearly funding reached the $500,000 milestone.
The year 2006 was another important one for HDRC.
We started the process of realising the dream of having a purpose-built centre for people with dementia in Port Macquarie.
We achieved our goal with the opening of our centre in the Greenmeadows Estate in 2010.
By 2007, Hastings District Respite Care was a multi-service provider with annual funding of $1 million.
We operated four centres across the Port Macquarie-Hastings Local Government Area – Sherwood Park and Greenmeadows Estate in Port Macquarie, as well as shared facilities in Wauchope and Laurieton.
All too soon, ever-greater demand for dementia and disability respite services meant that Hastings District Respite Care needed to take a fresh approach.
In mid-2011, the voluntary Community Management Committee appointed a General Manager to lead a management team.
While the day-to-day running of the organisation rested entirely with the management team and staff, the Committee focused on governance, strategy, risk management, and financial performance.
By 2012, Hastings District Respite Care employed 56 professional staff, had over 100 volunteers, and operated on a budget of $2 million.
In recent years, the Australian and NSW governments have continued to boost investment in care and support for people with dementia or a disability, as well as their carers and families.
‘Living Longer, Living Better’ is the Federal Government’s 10-year plan to reshape aged care, with a strong focus on people with dementia.
For people with disability we will see the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Both initiatives set a new direction in the delivery of person-centred care, allowing the individual to control their funding and determine – with assistance from their carer – which services and level of support they require.
During 2012, we placed greater emphasis on person-centred care: We sharpened our client focus, set new service standards, and began building a new culture in our relationship with clients, their families and local communities.
On every level, Hastings Respite Care’s policies, procedures, and business functions continued to evolve towards more personalised care – from financial management and IT, to human resources and governance.
Additional funding from the 2013 Commonwealth HACC funding round and our focus on business funding and grants led to further growth early in the decade. We began operating five days a week, while also offering a respite service at Greenmeadows on Saturdays.
Many new and exciting programs commenced within our centres, along with a greater interaction with the local community. We currently run regular land- and water-based activities, including golf, yoga, dance, swimming, canoeing, and fishing.
Theatre and drama have been an important activity. We’ve produced community performances and continue to operate a weekly Creative Arts and Theatre program.
We organise group visits to local attractions such as Sea Acres and Billabong Park, and take boating trips for fishing or whale watching.
We regularly visit the local Men’s Shed and Port Macquarie’s Community Garden, and in return we receive visits from numerous community groups, including Sing Australia, local auto clubs, and the CWA.
After nearly a year of development applications, building quotations, and a massive team effort, we transferred our Port Macquarie headquarters from Sherwood to Morton Street in 2015.
The former Lourdes Hostel was completely remodeled to accommodate administrative services, a new day centre, home-style kitchen, sensory garden, and a number of other facilities.
The new centre is the hub for an integrated community services model that revolves around a ‘one-stop shop’ approach to providing dementia and disability respite and support solutions. In adopting the new model, we altered our name to HDRC Services.
As the Morton Street centre continues to develop, our range of services is also expanding. We are progressively integrating the Montessori Approach into all of our support programs and activities.
As always, our goal is to help local people living with dementia or a disability to live happy, fulfilled lives so that they can continue living with their families as part of our community.
We welcome new supporters, donors and volunteers. Please call CEO Raymond Gouck on 65841115 to discuss ways that you might help.