Building on our mission

Publish date: 25 July 2023

When Bethanie Dalyellup opened in March, it was the culmination of a project 10 years in the making – and a testament to Bethanie’s commitment to delivering on its mission.

David Lorimer, General Manager Property Development, says the Eaton site, in the state’s South-West, had been part of Bethanie’s portfolio for some time.

“We’d already developed some social housing on the site, just over 100 apartments, so there was always a view we would build an aged care facility there, too,” he says.

However, while market research found the demand for an aged care home in the area was high, making a business case for such an expensive project was another matter entirely.
Much of the demand came from supported residents, who would be subsidised through the Australian Government, rather than self-funded residents.

“We actually modelled Dalyellup with a high percentage of concessionals, which from a business point of view didn’t make it viable,” he says.

"But what the Executive proposed and put to the Board was that they allocate a dollar number to mission.”

Bethanie’s mission is “to demonstrate the love of God by positively changing the way Australians experience ageing – every customer, every family, every community, every day”.
By assigning a dollar value to the mission, David says the Executive and the Board were able to make Dalyellup work.

“In many respects, Bethanie is subsidising this development based on their mission,” he says. “There were still prudent financials around the facility to ensure it was sustainable but without this step, the project wouldn’t have gone ahead.”
Perhaps in recognition of that leap of faith, Bethanie was able to secure a good price on a very competitive tender just before building costs went through the roof.

”We tendered the project at a very fortunate time just prior to COVID and had a very good response from builders who were very keen to secure the build contract. If we were to tender it now its likely the project wouldn’t have been able to go ahead.”

The volatility of the building industry did, however, affect the $28-million project’s delivery.
“It was about 11 months late in the construction phase – if you had a project that was two to three months late that would be considered poor performing, but now every build is running late,” he says.

“We spent nearly $3 million on the furniture and all the equipment that goes into the facility and that’s a big project in itself,” David says. “So when the end date of construction keeps shifting it makes it difficult to plan the commissioning of the building.”

All of the challenges, however, make the final result even more rewarding. The 120-bed, state-of-the-art facility is divided into six separate ‘houses’, each with a unique design and aesthetic, and boasts amenities such as a bar, café, hairdresser, wellness room and a large multi-purpose room.

“One of my motivations, one of the things I get out of my job, is seeing things get built – I always get a lot of satisfaction out of seeing a finished building,” he says. “And the feedback in Dalyellup has been really positive.”

Part of that for David, who has been with Bethanie for five years, comes down to drawing on the lessons of the past. “One of those is wing size, so building a house model where you operate in one wing but making it small enough to be manageable from an operational perspective,” he says.

“The other thing is that access to the outside world can be constrained by the site that it’s on, and with Dalyellup we were blessed with a large site, which we have used very well.”
This includes the intergenerational exercise and play area, which will encourage families to enjoy quality time together in a welcoming environment.

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