Sixty residents are living on site, 24 more are supported in the community and there are approximately 40 outpatients per month. About one-third of the residents are undergoing rehab and therapy before returning home or to a supported living arrangement. Originally, it was a hospital but in recent years, there is far greater focus on creating an active and social lifestyle for the residents who are living with a physical disability or an injury as a result of an accident or neurological condition.
The original hospital was replaced in 1999 with a modern building designed and equipped to meet the needs of the residents. As you walk in, you are greeted by friendly, happy staff and spacious, light surroundings. The beautiful gardens also make this an attractive place to live.
The founding principles declare that St John of God would be an organisation that looks after its residents and also its staff well. There's a commendable low turnover rate amongst the 150 staff and some have worked there for over 30 years. One such example is Brendan Kubala, who as head grounds-person, is known for his diligence in his care of the award-winning gardens.
The gardens and the space at St John of God Halswell have proved very useful in developing community relationships. Traditionally, the organisation had always been proactive in getting its residents active through sport, recreation, bowling, arts and crafts, shopping trips and meeting friends for coffee. However, Virginia Spoors, the Regional Manager of Health and Ability Services, St John of God Hauora Trust, explains that in 2013 the service introduced a model of care “My Life”. Traditionally the service had a very medical focus but the“model of care now incorporates a much more social focus and involves not only ensuring that residents are interacting with the community but that the community is interacting with us.” Since then, several new projects have developed.
Photo: Regional Manager Virginia Spoors and Community Liaison Officer Vicky Taylor
The first was "Carols by Treelight", which started four years ago and is an event that is getting bigger every year. Next came the Halswell Menzshed, which is a meeting of retired and semi-retired men in St John of God's workshop”. "It's a symbiotic relationship", comments Virginia. “The Menzshed meets in our facilities, and they help the residents with their own projects." The next initiative was prompted by a request from the Halswell Community Project who wanted to know if St John of God would be interested in hosting a market once a month. St John of God agreed that this would be great for the residents and the market has been well attended by residents, residents' families and the general public. Another more recent community based initiative is "Project Grow", which will be the creation of a community garden with the Rowley Community Centre.
The new model of care is interestingly illustrated by a piece of framed toast above Virginia’s desk. When questioned she explained that it symbolised the creativity and problem solving that the model incorporates. We have moved from a “cold toast model of care to a hot toast model of care”. Staff work hard at ensuring people’s individual needs are met including when and how they would like their toast.
The mission statement for St John of God, Halswell is "To create an environment where people living with a disability are creating opportunities to live and participate in life”. This is not just some glossy brochure spin. At St John of God, they are clearly "walking the talk".