I write to inform you that, due to increasing competition in the region and the resultant low occupancy for our home, sadly, AdventCare has announced that the AdventCare Residential Care Facility at Golden Square Bendigo is closing at the end of March 2018. We will continue to offer retirement living through our independent living units as these facilities are still viable.
It brings conference leadership no joy to know that no other option could be found for the Bendigo facility. Our hearts go out all who will experience turmoil as a result of this announcement.
Our priority now is to ensure both residents and employees are treated with the dignity, care and respect they deserve.
For residents and their families, this means a well-planned move to another facility and much work has been done to prepare the way and explore possibilities. Help will be provided to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible, with dedicated support to help residents settle into their new homes.
Employees will be paid out full entitlements and we understand there will be the opportunity for employment in another residential care facility in the Bendigo area for a number of the staff.
We have met separately with the facility to staff, the residents and family members and the Bendigo Church at a specially called business meeting to announce the closure of the facility.
After the meeting, a key leader from Bendigo was heard to say, “As a church, we’ve known the facility couldn’t continue on as it was. There’s been a lot of speculation about the future. You’ve cleared the air and now we know we need to move forward.” Our people have been aware of challenges related to the operation of the home for a number of years now. Given the circumstances which have been developing over a period of time, there was a sense that the closure of the facility was inevitable. We very much appreciate the gracious approach of our people as they deal with the implications of the change.
People are our main concern right now – residents and their families, and staff in particular. We also continue to support those in the independent living units as this service continues on.
The situation for AdventCare Bendigo is significantly different to the circumstances surrounding the Yarra Ranges facility a couple of years ago. However, AdventCare is simply not able to sustain the increasing losses that have occurred with a new home coming on-line very close to our older facility. We have just not been able to compete. No decision has been made as to the future use of the residential care facility.
AdventCare Bendigo has been struggling with occupancy over the last 18 months due to increasing competition in the area. We have done everything we can to attract new residents. We’ve upgraded the older resident rooms. We’ve invested in new equipment. We’ve increased marketing to referral agencies, and improved the way we showed rooms to potential new residents and their families. That has brought new people to the home, but low occupancy has become an insurmountable obstacle.
Conference and AdventCare personnel have met with the Bendigo church business meeting a number of times to discuss matters in relation to AdventCare Bendigo. The question of whether the facility should be sold has been raised by Bendigo members over a period of years now. This has not proven as simple as it may sound at face value. Master planning meetings have considered the best way forward. The close proximity of AdventCare facilities to the church has been taken into account. The Bendigo church is in a prime location right on the main road – and is partially surrounded by the AdventCare facilities.
AdventCare Mission has been an additional challenge. While so much has been done to support the quality of life and wellbeing of the residents, it’s hard to really develop Adventist ethos with one or two Adventist residents, and just a couple of Adventist staff – and that’s been the case for a number of years now. We appreciate the dedication of each one, including the voluntary chaplain from the church – there’s been a lot of good work done.
In spite of our best efforts, viability has been a major challenge for the Bendigo facility. We’re not alone in this struggle. With the opening of a new 140+ bed facility in Bendigo, we understand there are currently more than 110 empty beds in Residential Aged Care facilities in Bendigo. Population projections indicate this will not even out for a number of years. We would expect that the newer facilities will fill up faster than the older ones such as ours.
In December 2017, after reviewing the last 18 months of operations, the AdventCare Board of Directors sadly voted to cease operating residential care services at AdventCare Bendigo. It was a unanimous decision.
We have followed guidance from the department of Health and Human Services, as we are required to do. We’ve taken the steps they’ve outlined and only now are we free to announce the closure of the facility to residents and staff and to the wider community. We’re sharing the information at soon as we could, in reality.
Should you have any further questions, or wish to direct inquiries for additional information, please contact me by phone or email.
Thank you for your ongoing support and prayer for the Bendigo Seventh-day Adventist Church and its community and surrounding districts.

Yours in Christ,

Graeme Christian
Conference President