Facility vital for the community

CARERS of people with a disability have greater access to vital respite services with yesterday’s official opening of Challenge Disability Service’s new facility in Tamworth.

The former St Nicholas’ Dominican Convent in Hill St has been transformed into Dominic House, which provides temporary care for people with disabilities and a break for their carers.

NSW Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance yesterday said 80 families across the state were forced to relinquish the care of loved ones to the state last year alone.

This could have been avoided if there were better respite services available, he said, which made Dominic House such a vital facility for the community.

The $$1.1 million facility opened to clients in April and has 15 bedrooms – up from five at the former facility, Allawah House – a high-support wing, modified bathrooms, Liko rails and widened doorways.

Challenge finance general manager Carl Learson said the development of Dominic House was prompted by greater demand for respite care, which had grown about 30 per cent a year in the past few years. Allawah House had been operating at full capacity for some years.

“There are too many folk in the community who provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week care, and never get the opportunity to recharge,” Mr Learson said.

“This means they can remain carers for their loved ones, without breaking up families.”

Dominic House has been operating at capacity most weekends since it began operating.

It is expected the centre will support about 90 families from Tamworth and the wider region each year.

Dominican Sister Anne Ryan said the sisters were delighted their old home would be used to support the community.

Allawah House has become a group home for people needing high support.

ESSENTIAL: From left, NSW Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance and Challenge Disability Services board chairman Ted Wilkinson open the new respite facility, Dominic House. Photo: Geoff O’Neill 070912GOB02