Inspired by 60 community minded people including carers and service providers a voluntary community committee was elected in 1986 to seek funds to establish a respite service in Port Macquarie for young people with disabilities. The first volunteer coordinator was appointed to manage the daily operations of the new organisation. This humble beginning aimed to give carers of children with disabilities some time-out as volunteers took over their caring role.
Legally Hastings District Respite Care Inc was born in 1987 and received its first funds from the Department of Community Services - $27000. In 1989 Hastings District Respite Care received further funding to start the Leisure Link program for peer support of young people with disabilities.
In 1990/91 we started to support people with dementia and opened our first rented centre based service.
Through the rest of the 1990s and early into the 2000s Hastings District Respite Care moved several times and continued to grow as more services and funding was added.
In 2002 Hastings District Respite Care opened Sherwood Park in Port Macquarie as a facility for people with dementia.
Hastings District Respite Care was growing substantially and still managed by a voluntary community committee. The day-to-day service was changing and paid staff employed. We had 14 paid staff and 70 volunteers.
We provided 28,000 hours of centre based respite for people with dementia.
For people with disability we had 135 families receiving different types of respite packages and 40 youngsters enjoying Leisure Link support.
Our yearly funding reached the half-million dollar milestone.
2006 was another important year for Hastings District Respite Care as we started the process of Port Macquarie realising a dream of having its own purpose built centre for people with dementia. This was achieved and Greenmeadows was opened in 2010.
By 2007, Hastings District Respite Care was a multi-service outlet and our funding was now $1 million.
For people with dementia we now operated four centred-based care facilities for the Port Macquarie-Hastings area.
We have our Sherwood Park and Greenmeadows centres in Port Macquarie and other centres in Wauchope and Laurieton that are shared with other community groups.
Once again the demand for services for both people with dementia and disability meant that Hastings District Respite Care needed to change and a new way of operating was needed. Late in 2010 the voluntary community management committee appointed a General Manager to lead a new management team.
The voluntary community management committee would focus on the governance, strategy, risk management and financial performance while the day-to-day running of Hastings District Respite Care rested entirely with the management and staff.
By 2011, Hastings District Respite Care employed 56 professional staff, had over 100 volunteers and a budget of $2 million.
The Australian and NSW governments continue to boast investment in care and support for people with dementia, people with disability, their families and carers. “Living longer Living Better” is the government initiative as a 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 Care Scheme.
Both these initiatives set a new direction to deliver person-centred-care where the individual is in control of their funding and determines (with their carer) the services and support needed.
During 2012 we focused on understanding person-centred-care and we changed our client focus, set new service standards and started to develop a new culture. We are working differently with clients, their families and the communities they live in.
We changed our policies, procedures and business functions to support person-centred-care goals. Everything is changing from financial management, IT, from Human resources to Governance.
With additional funding from the 2013 Commonwealth HACC funding round and focusing on business funding and grants we now operate five days per week and a Saturday respite service from our Greenmeadows centre.
Many new and exciting programs are available both within our centres and interacting with our local community. We currently run regular land and water activities such as swimming, golf, yoga, dance, canoeing, fishing etc.
Theatre and drama has been an important activity over the last 12 months as we have produced community performances and continue to operate a weekly Creative Arts and Theatre program.
Group visits to Sea Acres, Billabong Park and boat trips around the bay of Port Macquarie for whale watching, fishing or simply relaxing are very important activities.
We regularly visit the local men shed and our community garden and receive visits from many community groups, such as Sing Australia, Car clubs, CWA, etc.
Our Cafe on the Meadows is a monthly evening meal program and allows clients and their family to enjoy a quality meal together.
After nearly a year of development applications, building quotations and much effort we finally moved our administrative, Sherwood dementia Centre and disability services to a completely remodelled facility at Morton Street Port Macquarie where we are implementing an innovative Montessori program.