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July 13, 2024

Update on Feros Byron Bay aged care standoff

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Diane and Maree both have parents at Feros in Byron. Photo Eve Jeffery

With ten elderly residents still refusing to move on after their eviction notice, and the Feros board apparently moving ahead with redevelopment plans, The Echo sought an update from Feros management and those refusing to leave.

In February, around 40 elderly residents were given notice to vacate the facility, prompting community outrage.

In a statement last week, the Feros board said closing the facility was ‘the responsible thing to do… because it cannot meet the higher government requirements for residential aged care’.

Yet, as previously reported by The Echo, the board refused to provide documents that supported this view, and there is no evidence that any government agency was forcing its closure.  

But the board did tell The Echo, ‘The Aged Care Act 1997 provides for a complex range of regulations that Feros Village Byron Bay is not able to meet. For example, the Act is clear that a residential aged care provider must provide ageing in place, and this is not feasible at Feros Village Byron Bay’.

‘The Aged Care Act, the Aged Care Standards, the User Rights Principles and the Quality-of-Care Principles are significant pieces of legislation that set out the conditions for operating government funded residential aged care. The Byron Bay facility was built 33 years ago as a low care hostel, and not designed or built to the standards or requirements of a residential aged care site. And that is why it must close’.

And given the standoff with the elderly residents, the board says they ‘have extended the closure date by a month to support the remaining residents to find a new home’.

Closure extended

‘We do hope common sense prevails and that the ten remaining residents engage with us, because there is ample accommodation in the region for them to choose from, including within Feros Care’.

When asked about why musicians Gyan and Simon Greaves were ejected from Byron Feros by managers mid-way through their performance last week, they replied, ‘Unfortunately, we were not notified the musicians would be performing. We would love to have them perform at Byron Bay, Bangalow or our home at Kingscliff. As you can understand for aged care facilities, there is a process that needs to be followed for the safety of all and if we were notified in advance this situation could have been easily avoided’.

Feros resident, Kate Smorty, told The Echo, ‘We don’t want to leave our homes in our four cottages on this 2.25 acres of space and beautiful gardens. We don’t want to move into a small room in a crowded facility with few or no gardens. I especially enjoy mealtimes, each in our own cottages with our ten fellow residents, we’re like family dining together. 

‘There is no suitable and affordable alternative place for me within easy reach of my family, who live close to Byron. Feros Bangalow has a mix of residents, with mostly people with high care needs, while I am still a mobile, intelligent, independent-living 95-year-old, who wants to continue with my activities here in Byron village’.  

Regarding ejecting the musicians last Friday, Kate Smorty said, ‘Gyan and Simon were visiting friends at Feros village and having a sing to cheer us up. We, the residents, were mortified that they were stopped.

‘We thought that Feros management were just being nasty – not wanting us to enjoy the music.’ 

Feros is misleading

Maree Eddings, whose father Mick lives at the village and leads the families opposing the closure, told The Echo, ‘The government has definitely not asked for the village to close, and has also not provided approval for any redevelopment, or for the closure itself. 

‘Feros is misleading the community by saying they can close, when it is their duty to run homes for the aged, as the manager of this Crown Land site. 

‘This explains why Byron Shire Council agreed in principle last Thursday to replace Feros as Crown Land manager. Families and residents are grateful for the support of Council. If Feros doesn’t want to run the aged care village, they should handover to someone who does. We want the government to take action to keep the village open. It’s a valuable community asset that we cannot afford to lose’. 

With regards to Gyan’s performance, Maree said, ‘Gyan is known to the village and has performed there previously without such checks. The Feros management response was not appropriate, and the residents report feeling abused and humiliated. They have lodged their own complaint as a group’.

Dianne Brien (Kate Smorty’s daughter) told The Echo, ‘I’m disgusted with the behaviour of Feros Care in this situation’. 

‘How dare they say they “hope common sense prevails”? I hope that compassion, real care and integrity prevail, so that our community-built Byron aged care village remains in our community as a treasured resource for our elders, now and into the future.’


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3 COMMENTS

  1. Good on you residents who are standing your ground. And what a load of twaddle Feros comes out with denying the residents some live, musical entertainment. Hang in there and protect your rights.

  2. stand STRONG FEROS ELDERS….INDEED I NOTICED ON A FEROS CAR THE MOTTO ‘BE BOLD’. SO BE THAT TOO THE COMMUNITY IS WITH YOU ALL THE WAY.

  3. The property can come out from under the rules for the Aged Care Act, by changing to, in effect, a normal share house, where residents rent rooms, in the same manner as any other premises where individuals share a property, but in this case where perhaps a nurse is given a room and a local doctor lined up to do home visits. A registered Aged Care property has associated regulations, whereas a share house doesnt.

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