News & Events

Unit upgrades a safety priority

February 19, 2017

Gillian Allen’s legs are letting her down these days. Years of circulation and other problems have affected her balance and movement and she needs all the support she can get inside her unit at OCAV’s Currie Park village in Euroa. So it made sense that Gillian’s unit was one of the first earmarked for renovation under the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) grant to ensure she can continue to live safely in the unit she moved into seven years ago.


By the end of this year OCAV will have upgraded the bathroom and kitchen in six of the units, many of which were built in 1977. Gillian’s unit and three other renovations will be done this year thanks to the $40,000 FRRR grant through the Ian Rollo Currie Estate Foundation as part of the Evergreening Euroa Project.


OCAV has funded two of the six upgrades utilising its own funds.


OCAV’s Property Manager Damian Pennington said some units were no longer fit for purpose, because their layout and amenities pose potential safety hazards to residents, or because they are functionally not user-friendly and out-dated.  He said falls most common in residential facilities are tripping, slipping and stumbling. The bathroom is frequently mentioned as one of the places falls are most likely to occur.


Damian said the bathrooms of the six units posed the most safety hazards and would be completely remodeled. Bathrooms will become wet rooms without shower units, opening up the space and removing trip hazards, hard surfaces and sharp corners. This will help residents with mobility issues, enabling them to sit comfortably on a chair while showering, as well as move around with the aid of a walker. Floors will be covered in hospital-grade non-slip vinyl with rounded edges where they meet the wall.


Gillian is looking forward to the renovations particularly the removal of the step into her shower. It isn’t a big step, but it’s more than she feels safe to manage. “I haven’t had a fall, but I have slipped a couple of times but managed to catch myself,” she said.


While the kitchens do not pose the same safety hazards, they are outdated.  Issues with the current kitchens include old cookers, taps on the sinks that are built into the wall causing people to reach and bend to turn them on and worn flooring, which poses a potential trip hazard.


Gillian’s kitchen will get a ‘facelift’ with painting, a new range hood, cupboards replaced, new bench tops, sink, tapware and remodeling of hard-to-access spaces. Work on her unit is due to start soon and will take a couple of months, but it is an inconvenience she welcomes. Residents will move to an empty unit during the renovation of their unit so they do not have to leave their community.


“I like to cook my own meals and I can’t wait for the new kitchen. We really are so lucky to be getting this done,” she said.


OCAV has a program across its four villages to prevent falls. Each year one in three older Australians in the community fall, with even higher rates for people in residential settings. A single fall can cost the health system up to $5,688, while the psychosocial consequences of learning to live with a permanent disability are great.


Caption: A Currie Park bathroom before the upgrade with its narrow access pinch points and design flaws, including shower floor bulkhead residents have to step over for shower access.



Josephine Katite may be a long way from Kenya, where she was born and lived until 2005 but the experience of looking after her elderly grandparents is very much with her every day in her work at Liscombe House.

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