The build begins

An artist’s impression of the Beattie Dementia Home currently being built in Ōtorohanga.

Construction has started on an $8 million dementia residential facility which is destined to provide a safe haven for people across the King Country.

After several Covid-19 linked delays, the build began at Ōtorohanga’s Beattie Home on August 4. Assuming there are no further Covid or weather-related hold-ups, it is expected to be completed by around June next year, said Beattie Community Charitable Trust chairman, Trevor Walters.

Bringing the Beattie Dementia Home to Ōtorohanga is regarded as a community triumph and testimony to the work and generosity of its residents.

Trevor said the new dementia home would generate at least 22 new jobs and earn over $1.3 million for Ōtorohanga, Te Kuiti and Te Awamutu in terms of employment and training opportunities, and spending within those communities. Training for new staff, and upskilling existing staff, starts next month.

“This will be a major asset for not only Ōtorohanga, but for the wider area,” he said. “We saw the increasing incidence of dementia and realised we needed to do something so that our communities could keep their loved ones and families close by. The nearest dementia units are in Te Awamutu and Putaruru, and they’re full. Local families travel several hours to visit their loved ones … this new home will bring them closer.”

None of it would have happened without the generosity of King Country philanthropists John and Sarah Oliver, he said. The couple donated $3 million to the project, on condition everything was in place by 2019.

“They wanted all our ducks in a row by then, all consents, funding in place, the whole nine yards. That was a great incentive. We kept the pressure on, despite the setbacks. It’s been a hell of a ride, but we’re there now.”

Funding sought from various agencies and through presentations to a range of groups netted financial support from Trust Waikato, North King Country Development Trust, G. Wilshier and the Ōtorohanga Lions. An additional $100,000 has been pledged from the rental income generated for the Ōtorohanga Charitable Trust by the Ōtorohanga Medical Centre, another success story which was also largely funded by John and Sarah Oliver, in conjunction with Ross Knutson’s family.

Trevor said the Trust was still applying for grants with different agencies and through government opportunities, such as through the Provincial Growth Fund.

The $8 million raised covers the cost of the new dementia home and new kitchen, set to straddle the new wing and existing Beattie Home.

“The Board bought two neighbouring houses that were next to three houses we owned within the Beattie Village,” he said. “That allowed us the space to build the secure dementia wing off the side of Beattie Home, with enough land to have secure outdoor living for our dementia residents.”
The Beattie Dementia Home will offer 22 residential beds, with two set aside for day stay clients who, until the build started, used the on-site Munro Unit. They are being temporarily accommodated in a neighbouring flat rented by the Trust and converted to meet DHB dementia day stay requirements.

The road to meeting growing wider community needs has been a long one. In 2015-16, the Trust built a nine-bedroomed wing at Beattie to add to its capacity, and then had to do a $330,000 upgrade to the facility’s fire walls to meet compliancy regulations. With those projects, as with the new dementia home being handled by Livingstone Builders, the Trust does all it can to ensure local sub-contractors are employed.

Trevor said discussions around Beattie Home’s long-term plans had been ongoing for around four years and weren’t likely to end any time soon.

“We will keep fundraising into the future. This Board has really come together as a team … we’re blessed to have people of their calibre with us, people who aren’t prepared to take ‘no’ for an answer when seeking to meet community needs.”

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