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March 20, 2004

Deaf Society forced to sell home

From: The Australian - Australia - Mar 20, 2004

FINANCIAL necessity had forced the Victorian Deaf Society to sell its Melbourne nursing home, Vicdeaf said.

Vicdeaf has sold its 66-bed Lake Park Nursing Home in Blackburn in Melbourne's eastern suburbs for $5.6 million to residential aged care centre operator the Regis Group.

The move comes after the Salvation Army last month decided to sell 15 of its 19 aged care centres around the country.

Vicdeaf chief executive John Paton said the sale of Lake Park Nursing Home was a matter of economic necessity.

"We came to the realisation that running an aged care facility is simply beyond our resources," he said.

"The management of nursing homes is an increasingly specialist activity and we had experienced significant operating losses at Lake Park in recent years.

"In order to achieve business viability and meet the Federal Government's new certification standards we would have to apply for additional bed licences and have to find an additional $5 million to $10 million to expand and upgrade the facility."

Mr Paton said part of the contract of sale, which was yet to be approved by the government, involved preserving a certain number of beds for deaf people.

The Regis Group will also be required to offer jobs to existing staff and train new staff in Auslan.

"It's a sad day for Vicdeaf because we have had the property since 1911," Mr Paton said.

The Victorian Association of Health and Extended Care, which represents more than half of Victoria's aged care providers, said the industry was in crisis.

"Over the last seven years, the industry has been underfunded by $500 million," chief executive Mary Barry said.

"Many of our providers are currently running deficits.

"With a lot of them, there's no more fat left to cut."

© The Australian