The Southern Inland Health Initiative (SIHI) is the largest investment into rural health care in Western Australia’s history.
Over half a billion dollars – funded through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program – is being invested to transform the way communities in the southern inland area access and approach health and aged care.
The Southern Inland Health Initiative is committed to providing innovative aged and dementia care solutions to ensure people get the right care and support them to remain within their community.
Under SIHI, the Residential Aged and Dementia Care Investment program aims to attract innovative approaches to support ageing in the community. There are three projects under this program:
- Development of age appropriate accommodation for Cunderdin
- Development of age appropriate accommodation for Pingelly.
- Service improvement grants to facilitate improved quality of residential aged and dementia care across the SIHI catchment.
What is the current situation in the southern inland catchment area?
Aged care is a growing issue for rural communities. Statistics show a 4 per cent increase in the number of residents aged 65 years and over in the southern inland catchment.
Dementia care is also a priority, with statistics predicting the number of southern inland residents with dementia rising by as much as 300 per cent by 2050 in some areas.
The WA Country Health Service currently provides 473 residential care places in small hospitals and multi-purpose services within the catchment area.
Smaller communities face many barriers in the provision of quality residential aged and dementia care, including small populations dispersed over large distances, increased building costs and significant workforce challenges.
Incentives and strategies are needed to support providers of aged care to strengthen and maintain systems into the future.
Service improvement grants
The Southern Inland Health Initiative’s Aged and Dementia Care Investment program will see funds invested to attract eligible organisations to develop innovative options for residential aged and dementia care across the southern inland area.
It is anticipated that the program will assist organisations with the development of contemporary aged and dementia services in rural communities.
Innovative solutions could include (but not limited to):
- age appropriate accommodation as part of age friendly communities
- improvements, upgrades and or extensions to existing residential care facilities
- building capability for residential dementia care, including respite.
Age-appropriate accommodation in Pingelly and Cunderdin
In a first for the Wheatbelt, new accommodation designed specifically for older people will be built in Cunderdin and Pingelly.
The WA Country Health Service has been working with the Shires of Cunderdin and Pingelly to develop an innovative model to accommodate older members of the community, helping them to live in their communities for as long as possible, supported by local health and community services.
The accommodation projects in Cunderdin and Pingelly are closely aligned to another SIHI initiative, the development of two new primary health centres in Cunderdin and Pingelly. These sites will be innovative, fit-for-purpose health care facilities that will focus on keeping people well at home while continuing to provide emergency care, including the Emergency Telehealth Service.
The age-appropriate accommodation will be located near the new Primary Health Centres and close to other amenities to support the ongoing independence and health of residents as part of an age-friendly community.
Planning for the projects has commenced and construction of the housing is due to start in early 2017 and be completed by the end of 2017.
Building Capacity to Support Ageing in the Community Initiative
In January 2016, a tender was released inviting eligible organisations to apply for SIHI grants to provide innovative solutions that help older people living in regional towns to remain independent and engaged in their community.
The funds are available to private and not-for-profit organisations able to enhance facilities and services that help regional people stay living in their communities as they age.
Funding is being allocated through an open competitive grants process and will be in the form of one-off grants. Successful applicants will be announced in the near future.
Southern Inland Health Initiative
WA Country Health Service