Westport-based Dunsford Ward rest home and hospital level aged residential care facility is set to close by March next year. The West Coast District Health Board is proposing the closure due to the facility’s failure to meet building compliance along with a strategic shift towards community-based care.

The proposal to close Dunsford comes after engagement with the Buller community on the direction of travel for older persons’ health services for the region. West Coast DHB General Manager Philip Wheble says people wanted to live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.

“As Dunsford Ward is part of our aging Buller Health facilities which no longer meet current building standards, alongside which, we have worked hard to strengthen community-based services and of course O’Conor Home has expanded its capacity,” he said.

The DHB has started talking to residents, their next of kin, staff, contractors and unions this week to discuss the process from now until the facility is proposed to close.

Wheble says staff would now be working with residents and their families to consider options for new homes. O’Conor Home in Westport has space for all 15 current residents. Or some may wish to return to living in the community, supported by services.

The DHB has increased resourcing of community-based services, including home-based support services and expanding diversional therapy into the community.

A staff consultation period has now started and Mr Wheble says the DHB would be working closely with staff about this proposal in the coming weeks.

“I acknowledge that change can be difficult, and we know that our staff affected by this proposal will continue to work hard to minimise any disruption to residents.  They are dedicated professionals,” says Wheble.


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