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concentrate on retirement living while Opal will specialise
in residential aged care.
"The homes we build will offer specialist services such as
restorative, respite and transition care as well as permanent
care. Between us we will support residents on those campuses
to live there for the rest of their lives. If they need rehabilitation
they come to us instead of staying in hospital. The concept has
changed to what we refer to as episodic care where someone
moves to the aged care home as a form of sub-acute offering
similar to a private hospital environment."
Barnier believes that what Opal is doing is unique for the
industry, describing it as: "high care but with emphasis on a
family environment and a commitment to providing quality
accommodation to people at different points in their lives. If
residents in the village require respite support, or need to go to
hospital for a procedure, they have the opportunity to return to the
aged care home earlier as we have the facilities to look after them."
To achieve all this Opal needs to increase the number of beds
available and has developed a 10-year master plan that begins
with a $450-plus million spend over the next three years that will
take Opal from almost 6,000 beds to 10,000 by 2019, with plans
to go beyond that. In the past 12 months Opal has increased
its number of beds by more than 1,000, which was "the largest
growth period in our history," says Barnier, adding: "We expect
to grow by a similar number in the next year."
NEW PROJECTS, LOOKING AFTER
The company has 23 projects in the pipeline including 1,100
additional beds to existing homes, 1,250 greenfield places and
refurbishing 1,700 places on top of these. Some $200 million
of this investment will go into Inner West and Western Sydney
with new sites in Ashfield, Penrith, Blacktown, Toongabbie,
Wentworthville and Cabramatta. Among the new builds and
refurbishments slated for a 2015 release in country New South
Wales are Opal Cherrywood Grove in Orange, Denhams Beach
(formerly Edgewood Park) at Bateman's Bay and Rutherford
in the Hunter Valley.
It is all part of what Barnier says is looking after middle
Australia, which he believes is under serviced and clearly a
critical area of growth when it comes to residential aged care. He
has the figures to support it: "If you look at the 2011 Productivity
Commission report, 90 per cent of people over 80 years of age
have assets of less than $765,000 and 70 per cent of people over
80 years of age have assets of less than $350,000. Based on this
data you would expect 40 per cent of people to be supported
fully or partially by the government through the pension and
there needs to be a provider that supports them with a quality
product at an affordable price," he says.
Barnier gives an example with the
new Opal facility at Quakers Hill in
Western Sydney, where the refundable
accommodation deposit is $350,000.
"So for people whose home is worth at
least $500,000, this represents a very
His observation is that most of the
activity seems to be concentrating on
the premium end of the market: "While
millionaires need residential aged
care too, around three-quarters of the
population don't have the assets to pay
for a super premium product."
Discussing the decision to rebrand last
June, Barnier says the group's former
name -- Domain Principal Group -- was
complex and did not convey anything.
"It was time to change, not just our name,
but our culture. Two years ago when the
business completed our staff engagement
survey, we had a culture of consolidation.
This is now a culture of ambition, which
is a significant improvement on what was
already a positive culture."
Above: Inside Opal
Quakers Hill home.
Many of the new-
built homes will
be developed with
to support residents
needing specialist care.
Opal South Valley staff
proudly wear their new
uniforms under the Opal
Aged Care brand.
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