Analysis. Wyndarra is seeking community feedback on whether there is a greater need for the respite centre, with fears the house may be abandoned due to lack of use.
Opened in 2008 by Rural Health, the centre at Havelock Street is a place where people living with a disability can spend time with a support worker, while parents and carers have time away from caring duties.
Prior to this, respite care could only be accessed along the coast, at Burnie or Devonport.
Wyndarra community service worker David Bryan is on the respite centre’s committee along with others from Wyndarra, Rural Health and parents and carers of people living with a disability.
Mr Bryan admits the centre is currently underutilised and he is concerned it will be used for recovering ice addicts, with plans for a drug recovery service to be set up in Smithton.
However, Rural Health manager Robert Waterman said the building is not the “preferred” option, with locations still being considered for the specialised service, dependent on funding.
“It would be nice to see the respite house better utilised. If it was being better utilised, we would probably exclude the respite house as an option,” Mr Waterman said.
He added that he hoped to find an alternative that suited everyone, with “both [needs] as important as each other”.
“All health is important. I see it from an individual perspective, and a family’s perspective. Each individual situation is as important as the next,” Mr Waterman said.
“We are giving the community the opportunity to use it. No decision has been made.”
Currently, six locals make regular use of the respite centre, which Mr Bryan said complements support services provided at Smith Street, where he has seen the demand grow from one client needing 20 hours of support to 300 hours per week.
The support services currently employ 20 people, at the equivalent of 12 full-time positions.
Mr Bryan said he expects more people will use the respite centre as the National Disability Insurance Scheme care plans allow them to.
“As that gets rolled out over the next few years there’s going to be a lot of people to get respite funding.”
He said he hoped to see NDIS clients from all over Tasmania use the house and “make it viable” into the future.
“It probably hasn’t been used extensively. What we’re aiming at, is to try and get it to a facility that is actually manned by staff.
“It’s certainly been a big thing for parents and carers for people with a disability. A lot of these parents are starting to age, and getting concerned what will happen to their children when they get to the age that they can’t look after them.
“I certainly don’t have a problem for something being set up, but let’s look for alternatives. I’m really worried that if we lose it, finding an alternative, purpose-built disability house will be difficult. It would be a real shame for it to be lost.”
Wyndarra is currently undertaking a needs analysis, focusing on the need for short or long term respite care and/or individual supported accommodation within a group home.
To speak to someone about the respite centre, phone Wyndarra on 6452 1981.