$1.4m for rural practice to expand services

3 minute read

A medical centre in Queensland’s Southern Downs aims to bring cradle-to-grave, wraparound care back to the region.

If Killarney Memorial Aged Care CEO Sarah Fea has her way, the 900 residents of the Queensland border town won’t have to leave the city limits to access healthcare.

Located in a Modified Monash Model 5 area, Killarney’s closest regional centre is Toowoomba, a 90-minute drive up the New England Highway.

Killarney Memorial, a not-for-profit owned by the community, already provides an impressive array of services, including: a GP clinic; residential aged care; an aged care hostel; home care; NDIS; allied health; Meals on Wheels; a Men’s Shed program and a home maintenance service.

Last week, it was announced as one of the recipients of the government’s Innovative Models of Care grant program, worth $24.7 million in total.

The $1.4m investment that Killarney Memorial received under the program will go toward expanding the medical centre arm of the business with the aim of introducing more multidisciplinary team-based care.

“The whole goal of it is to ensure that we find a model where we can provide holistic care and support the doctors to focus on … [things like] early intervention,” Ms Fea told The Medical Republic.

Grant money will also go toward funding a dedicated “practice navigator” who will be able to coordinate and link in with different existing services in the area, as well as upgrading practice technology.

“There are lots of services available, but the problem that we’ve had is knowing about them and knowing how to access them,” Ms Fea said.

“And then sometimes when you’re in a remote area, actually being able to access the service is a problem.

“We really want to bridge the gaps in those services to find out what they are and, where we can’t access them, how we can access them.”

The funding will also go toward creating a local Dementia Alliance program, a palliative care program, a support group for new mothers and a community garden initiative.

“The Dementia Alliance will work with Dementia Australia to implement … the Dementia Friends program to make a lot of the businesses in our town dementia friendly,” Ms Fea said.

“Because we’ve got such a small, tight knit community, we have really unique opportunities in improving inclusion.”

The team behind Killarney Memorial hope to be able to develop a model of care which will work for other small towns across the country, and ultimately keep rural Australia liveable.

“Our goal and our strategic direction is to provide services to our community that enable them to live their whole lives in our community without having to leave because they can’t get services,” Ms Fea said.

“That’s kind of our ethos.”

Applications for round five of the Innovative Models of Care program close today – Friday 15 December.

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