The brand new state of the art residential aged care home, Moooroopna Place was officially opened today before a small gathering of residents, families, staff and officials.
Member for Nicholls, Damian Drum did the honours ably assisted by long time Mooroopna resident Anne Gooiker, and Shepparton Villages life members Santo Varapodio OAM and Barry Campbell.
The 100 bed residential aged care home is a $20m redevelopment of the previous site that housed three smaller residential hostels and was completed in September last year (2020), before opening to residents in February 2021.
The new development is the latest capital investment from Shepparton Retirement Villages and follows the completion of the $34million 120 bed residential care home, Maculata Place at Tarcoola in Shepparton in 2018.
Through the dedicated and diligent work of the Shepparton Villages Board, management and staff, together with generous contributions from the community, the $20m construction of Mooroopna Place has been entirely funded by Shepparton Villages.
Shepparton Villages gratefully acknowledges the ongoing funding the Australian Government provides from the Aged Care Program to support the continuing care needs of its residents.
The first residents moved in to Campbell Court – the 60 bed fully refurbished wing at the rear of the building in February this year. Varapodio Way – the 40 bed new build at the front of the site opened to residents on April 13 this year. Varapodio Way and Campbell Court are joined by a new reception and welcome area, fitted with a hairdresser’s salon, wellness centre, physiotherapy and visiting allied health rooms, as well as break out lounge areas.
Residents from Acacia House at Tarcoola in Shepparton relocated to Campbell Court which is all but full, and Acacia House was decommissioned in February.
Board president Mike Hall explained the decision was made to close Acacia House as it did not meet modern consumer demands with shared rooms and ensuites.
“Residents want their own rooms and amenities which is perfectly understandable. Campbell Court is now pretty much full which is a great endorsement of the development, and with Varapodio Way opening very recently, the rooms there are also filling quickly,” he said.
Mr Hall said the development of the old infrastructure was part of the Board’s strategy to provide state of the art care and accommodation for elderly in the region.
“Mooroopna residents rightly deserve a home that meets modern facilities that contribute to making residential care a home like environment,” he said.
Mooroopna Place was constructed over 18 months with building contractors AW Nicholson Construction employing more than 150 people over the course of the build, and sourcing local contractors as a priority where possible. Some positions were created with Nicholson Construction specifically for the project.
Shepparton Villages CEO Veronica Jamison paid tribute to the staff, residents and their families for their co-operation and support during the construction phase.
“It hasn’t been easy for residents and staff as the original Mooroopna residents were relocated during the Mooroopna Place build which was a huge logistical task. The understanding and patience showed by everyone was incredible and made the whole project run as smoothly as possible, given that most of the build occurred during the COVID-19 lockdown period,” she said.
The two wings of Mooroopna Place have been named after Santo Varapodio OAM and Barry Campbell – both life members of Shepparton Villages who were passionate drivers of the original Mooroopna building more than 30 years ago. (See history notes below).
In October 1986, Barry Campbell representing Mooroopna Rotary was invited to his first meeting at Tarcoola – the beginning of a long association that endures today.
Mooroopna citizens saw what happened when Shepparton Rotary established aged care facilities at Tarcoola, with people coming from Mooroopna to live at Tarcoola and to quote Barry (from the history book, The Passion and the Dream): “Look, we should have something like that here in Mooroopna. We set aside a small amount of money to make investigations.”
At a meeting late in October 1986, Tarcoola agreed to be the administrative body for a new hostel if the land could be found and provided by Mooroopna Rotary or Rodney Shire. Rodney Shire bought and paid for 15 acres of land at Mooroopna and by November, the Mooroopna Development Committee was formed with heavy involvement from Mooroopna Rotary.
Mr Campbell headed up the Building Committee in the late 1980s with the specific goal of establishing Mooroopna’s first and only not for profit residential care facility for the aged. Aided by Santo Varapodio who headed the fundraising committee along with an energetic committee, they raised in excess of $1million – an extraordinary result at the time – and played a pivotal role in the establishment of Waratah Lodge (30 beds) which was opened in 1990. Boronia House (30 beds) and Grevillea Lodge (30 beds) followed in 2002. Barry Campbell was president of Shepparton Retirement Villages in 1989 and 1990, and again in 2003-2005, and both Barry and Santo have had a long and proud association with Shepparton Villages, specifically in Mooroopna.