NEW retirement homes might be popping up all over Toowoomba, but you won't catch Rena Hey and Shirley Parr moving into them.

The friends are part of a growing trend across the Darling Downs and Australia where senior citizens prefer to spend their golden years at home to moving into assisted living.

This is reflected in wait lists at Toowoomba's major aged-care facilities, with some reporting vacancies as well as fluctuating wait times.

St Vincent's Care Services facility in Middle Ridge is one of the retirement homes with vacancies, and its CEO John Leahy said this was partially due to a push from the public to keep people at home.

"There is a growing movement of more seniors staying in their homes longer and receiving in-home community support and care services as they age, and delaying their admission to an aged-care facility," he said.

"St Vincent's Care Services has two dedicated community living coordinators in Toowoomba and we welcome anyone who has been approved for a government-assessed home care package to contact us to see where we can assist."

Mrs Hey, who had to put her late husband into an aged-care facility, said she feared losing the flexibility and freedom if she decided to move out of her house.


"I don't want to go into aged-care, because I'm quite happy at home," she said.

"My husband was in aged-care because he couldn't walk and I couldn't manage him at home.

"I used to visit him every day but it would've been nice if he could've stayed at home.

"I find it much nicer at home, because you can have what you want."

Mrs Parr, who meets up with other seniors at the Toowoomba Senior Citizens Respite Centre, said she wouldn't move into aged-care unless it was absolutely necessary, preferring to use in-home care services to help her.

"I fractured my ankle and that sort of stopped me from walking a lot," she said.

"Apart from that, I can still do house work."

Of the seven major aged care facilities The Chronicle contacted regarding the issue, just one said it had a significant wait list of residents wanting a spot.

Darling Downs Hospital Health Service's aged-care director Luke Tanks said the move away from retirement homes was part of the Federal Government's post-retirement reforms.

"Under the Australian Government's 'Living Longer, Living Better' reforms funding resources have been redesigned for the provision of in-home support, with the aim of helping elderly Australians to retain their independence for as long as possible," he said.

"Examples include The Commonwealth Home Support Program and the Home Care Packages Program."

The Toowoomba region has 40 aged-care services according to the Queensland Government, with several more in construction from organisations like Ozcare and Infinite Aged Care.

While the demand might not be here right now, the number of Toowoomba residents aged over 85 is expected to triple and there will be more than 6000 people with dementia living here by 2025.  

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