The Feros Care Board has made the difficult decision to close and redevelop Feros Village Byron Bay.
We understand any sadness or distress the residents feel in having to move to a new home, along with the sense of loss felt in the wider community.
Redevelopment is our best option to remain in the community for seniors in a new way. Feros Village Byron Bay was designed and built as a low-care hostel 33 years ago. It simply cannot meet modern obligations and requirements of residential aged care.
We care deeply about our residents and are working with them to ensure they find new homes of their choice.
True to our founder, George Feros, we have always been a visionary organisation. We look forward to working with the local community in co-design to meet the needs of Byron Bay’s seniors on the same site in a new and innovative way.
If you are a resident or family member of Feros Care Bangalow or Wommin Bay and have questions or concerns please reach out to your respective village Care Manager.
Latest news and updates
Feros Care Responds to Crown Lands’ EOI Announcement
Whilst Feros Care welcomes government support to find a solution to the ongoing dispute over the closure of Feros Village Byron Bay, the Expression of Interest (EOI) process by the NSW Department of Planning & Environment (Crown Lands) in no way ensures the eight residents who are refusing to leave will be able to stay should an alternate operator for the site be found.
In determining the future of the Byron Bay Marvell Street site, Crown Land’s EOI process seeks a provider for the site’s reserve purpose, namely seniors’ accommodation, and not necessarily a government funded aged care facility.
Feros Care has repeatedly asserted to government authorities that the reason for the closure is the facility in Byron Bay, which was built as a low care hostel, is unsuitable and unsafe to remain as a government funded residential aged care facility.
We will review the Expression of Interest though our position remains unchanged, that the site in its current form is not suitable for government-funded residential aged care due to our obligations under the Aged Care Act, and the planning and zoning constraints.
Feros Care remains concerned for the expectations and wellbeing of the remaining eight residents who are clinically at risk and are refusing to be re-homed in government approved facilities. Despite this Feros Care has received regular assurances from the government regulator ACQSC that we are handling the closure appropriately and safely.
Byron Bay deserves a future where much needed seniors accommodation in the region is prioritised. Feros Care remains committed to working collaboratively to support a guaranteed solution for the affordable housing crisis for seniors in the region.
Feros Care continues to invest in aged care in the region, through our Bangalow Residential Aged Care Facility and the organisation’s significant community care program. As a charity Feros Care provides care and services to more than 35 000 people each day.
On 28 February 2023, Feros advised all residents of Feros Village Byron Bay Residential Aged Care Home (Feros Byron) that in coming months, the home would be closing. Since that time, a number of residents of Feros Byron have transitioned to new accommodation.
Whilst we had communicated that the home was closing on 23 June, in view of the ongoing challenges around the closure of Feros Byron, we have been able to secure staffing and the assistance of a general practitioner for another month and have therefore extended the closure date to Wednesday, 19th July 2023.
We understand the emotions and concerns surrounding this decision, and we want to assure you that the well-being and safety of our residents and team members have always been our utmost priority.
This additional time will assist residents in consider the available, and suitable vacancies across the region.
We fully acknowledge the emotional impact that this decision has had on residents, families, employees, and the entire community. We acknowledge that that this is a stressful time, and we want to assure everyone that residents continue to have sufficient time to find their new home.
Whilst the closure may not be the popular decision, it is the responsible one.
The Feros Care Board has a fiduciary duty to act on the high risks associated with the shortcomings of the current facility in accordance with regulatory and legislative requirements.
During this transition period and beyond, Feros Care will continue to provide the highest quality of care for our residents. No resident will be left homeless or forcibly removed from the village.
We continue to assist families as they make their decisions on which new home they will move to. Most are moving within the region and some are choosing to move outside of the region to be closer to families or due to other personal circumstances. We are assisting in these moves by providing packing and removal services if the resident and family requires this extra help. Other supports we have provided and continue to provide include:
- Residents and family access to the Feros Care Access EAP membership which provides free phone-based professional counselling services.
- An onsite counsellor if residents prefer to speak to a counsellor face to face.
- An onsite GP for any wellbeing concerns
- Information on how to access The Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission for feedback or complaints
- Information on how to access Older Persons Advocacy Network [OPAN] is available
- Information on how to access Senior Rights Services
- A professional placement service for out of region move logistics
As at the end of March almost half of our residents have moved to their new home and a large amount have provided us with their preferences.
We understand that there is a rally planned in Byron Bay this weekend, with the community gathering to protest the closure and redevelopment of Feros Village Byron Bay into a new concept of seniors housing.
As the facility cannot meet modern obligations and requirements of residential aged care, redevelopment of this facility is our best option to remain in the community for seniors in a new way.
We care deeply about our 36 Byron Bay residents and understand this was their home. This was a very difficult decision. However, as we have previously shared, no resident will be left unsupported, or with nowhere to go.
Eight of our Feros Village Byron Bay residents have either already moved or are planning to move to their new homes next week. Those moving to our villages will be welcomed with afternoon tea and flower arrangements, as well as some other surprises we have planned for them.
Questions and answers
Why is Feros Care Byron Bay closing?
We are closing Feros Village Byron Bay because the building was designed and built as a low care hostel 33 years ago. It can no longer meet modern obligations and requirements of a residential aged care facility. Unfortunately, it simply cannot continue in its current form.
There has been a claim made about elder abuse at Feros Care Village, Byron Bay, what is your response?
Any accusation of elder abuse should be reported immediately to the authorities. The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission has been onsite numerous times and reported that residents are happy with their care and conduct of staff. Feros Care has zero tolerance to elder abuse. We would take any such claim extremely seriously. Our primary concern has and always will be, for the well-being of our residents.
Does Feros Care consider 120 days as a reasonable amount of notice given to vulnerable elderly residents to find alternative care in this current housing crisis environment?
It is untrue that there is no suitable accommodation for the remaining residents to move to.
To date, we have supported, and transitioned 26 of the 36 residents of Feros Byron to new homes of their choosing across the region.
Right now, all the remaining 10 residents have 2 suitable accommodation options available to choose from and move into immediately.
Currently, the 10 remaining residents at Feros Byron have chosen not to engage with us regarding the closure. On 10 May 2023, Feros Care received advice from the solicitor representing these remaining residents, instructing us to cease direct communication to residents regarding the closure.
Feros Care can accommodate all 10 remaining residents in our homes at Bangalow and Wommin Bay or in the region with other providers if they prefer, with more than 10 places immediately available and held for them if they choose to engage.
Feros Care has always and remains open to meeting with residents and their families to discuss their plans for relocation because the Village is closing.
How is Feros Care assisting the residents to find alternative accommodation?
We are doing a lot here.
- 26 residents have been supported and already relocated to their new homes in the region.
- Feros Care has a dedicated transition manager onsite, from Sunday to Thursday each week (to allow residents and families to meet with her on the weekend if required). An experienced Registered Nurse is otherwise available to discuss transition plans on Fridays and Saturdays;
- Feros Care continues to offer and provide transport, buses, and tours to potential new homes at no cost to residents.
- Feros Care has organised for the Aged Care Assessment Team (a government team, independent of Feros) to be onsite at Byron Bay to assess residents’ long-term care needs and help them plan their transition;
- Feros Care has provided an external aged care placement provider, Health & Aged Assist at no cost for all residents if they prefer an independent person to help them find alternative accommodation.
- Feros Care has offered all family members and residents counselling at no cost to them through the independent Access EAP service – and arranged for counsellors to be onsite every week since the announcement of the closure.
- Feros Care continues to provide the 10 remaining residents with wellbeing support services including an onsite GP, an onsite counsellor, phone-based counsellor services and access to independent placement and advocacy services. Our priority is supporting the wellbeing of remaining residents as they transition to their new home.
Is there a possibility that Feros Care could extend the Management of the facility for the term of the licence (May 2024) so an alternative provider could be tendered to manage the facility within this timeframe?
Unfortunately, no, as it would be irresponsible to place residents at continued risk.
It was reported that Feros Care was unable to meet the complex regulations required – could you advise what these complexities are?
All Government funded Residential Aged Care facilities, including Feros Byron Village, must comply with four significant legislative requirements (amongst others), with the Act (and subordinate legislation) being the main law that covers government-funded aged care in Australia.
The Act sets out rules for things like funding, regulation, approval of providers, quality of care and the rights of people receiving care.
- The Aged Care Act (the Act)
- The User Rights Principles
- The Quality-of-Care Principles, and
- The Aged Care Quality Standards.
Our obligations under the Aged Care Act (1997) (AC Act), the Quality Standards
and the changes to the policy settings around ‘Ageing in Place’. Feros Byron Village is no longer compliant with the requirements in the Aged Care Act.
The decision to close was not motivated by financial imperatives.
The Feros Byron village was specifically designed 33 years ago to meet the requirement of a low care hostel – but the distinction between high and low care no longer exists.
The requirement for ‘Ageing in Place’ is also outlined in the Byron Shire Council’s Residential Strategy, December 2020.
And the Feros Byron village is ‘grandfathered’ as a Class 3 building under the Building Code of Australia, all residential aged care homes are now required to be Class 9c. Any changes to the current building will trigger the requirement to rightfully meet Class 9c building requirements with due consideration to the relevant fire protection zone on site.
The required mandated provisions derived from the Aged Care Act, namely that the distinction between high and low care has been removed – which means providers of residential aged care must be able to demonstrate they can support all residents to age in place across the full spectrum of care needs at any time.
For instance, significant redevelopment of the Feros Byron village buildings to bring the current facility up to standard, including:
- Additional design elements to allow for limited accessibility for individuals and peoples with disability, mobility challenges, and included increased security features, to accommodate quality clinical care and safety of residents with dementia.
- Inadequate provisions for high care requirements in rooms, and outdated healthcare management technology
- Clinical and medication rooms, and appropriate storage for hoists and other equipment
- Fire prevention, and protection design elements and sprinklers to address the fire protection zone provisions.
- Introduction of automatic doors throughout the facility for non-ambulatory residents
- A commercial laundry and dirty utility/pan room that meets infection control and outbreak prevention standards.
- New commercial kitchen facilities
- GP consulting rooms, allied health treatment spaces, accommodation for hairdressers, etc
- Rewiring and new switchboard for generator power, new cabling for effective use of technology and a new nurse call and alarm system
- A dedicated clinical team to ensure that Feros Care is able to meet the ‘care minute’ requirements for its residents, including a registered nurse being present onsite 24 x 7 (noting current workforce shortages are predicted to become more acute in the near future, and challenges for our staff to find affordable housing locally).
- Renovations to increase the capacity at the Village to enable the clinical care roster to meet the above care minutes and registered nurse requirements to be viable.
- Availability of local General Practitioners willing to serve residents 24 x 7 onsite.
Does Feros Care have future plans for this facility?
We do. Feros Care understands our duties and obligations as Crown Land Managers and the reserve purpose on the land. It is Feros Care’s intention that this site will continue to be used for the benefit of seniors in the Byron Bay Community. Accordingly, the new facility proposed by Feros Care will be consistent with the Public Purpose for which it has care, control, and management of the Crown Reserve, namely ‘Homes for the Aged’.
Feros Care remains committed to engaging and consulting with the Crown Land, Byron Shire Council, community and other stakeholders on the co-design and delivery of a new, fit-for-purpose, seniors’ accommodation on the site.
Is Feros Care developing the site to make money?
Feros Care is a not-for-profit charity. The decision to close was not made so that we could develop or sell the site for commercial gain or property development. The land actually belongs to the Crown and Feros Care has neither the right, nor the intent to do anything other than operate a great community facility for seniors there.
What has happened to Feros Care team members?
We are doing everything we can to retain capable talent within the aged care industry, where workforce shortages are widely known. All team members have been offered ongoing employment with Feros Care, and no person is losing their job as a consequence of this closure.
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