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From little things, big things grow.

Following World War II, there was a real need for affordable accommodation for older people in Western Australia. The Social Services Committee of Churches of Christ in WA (COCWA), which was a group of people from various churches affiliated with COCWA, had discussed the concept of providing such services for several years. In 1946 the committee was instrumental in getting COCWA to purchase two acres of land in Somerset Street, Victoria Park. The plan was to build duplex cottages on the land, however there was a shortage of building materials after the war ended, so those plans had to be postponed.

In early 1950, a Church of Christ member offered his 7 roomed house in Rutland Avenue, Carlisle to the Social Services Committee together with other land on which there was a small cottage. A decision was made by COCWA to buy this property and to sell the Victoria Park land to help pay for it. The Carlisle property was leased while plans were made to raise finance to be able to use the property for aged care. Then towards the end of 1953 a Miss Rose Sharpe offered the Social Services Committee her property at 2-9 Osborne Street, Joondanna which included the land and two large houses. There was also on the land a concrete building that had been built by the Perth Bible Institute for use as their chapel.

At the 1954 annual COCWA Conference those attending were told of the opportunity to buy this Joondanna property and the plans to use it as a Home for the Aged. It was with some trepidation that the meeting agreed to sell the Carlisle property and buy the Joondanna property for £20,100 (which is about the price of 6 homes today; thus a very brave decision of the COCWA Conference to give the go ahead).

Once the decision had been made to establish a Home for the Aged a Board of Management had to be appointed and the first Board comprised 6 members, one of whom was Eric Hogben’s father Clarrie, who was at the time secretary of the Social Services Committee. Quite a number of people gave donations and financial assistance to assist with the purchase.

Bethesda Hospital, which was also connected to Churches of Christ, gave an interest free loan of £3,000. A few weeks after the decision to buy the property was made the Federal Government announced a new policy to provide pound for pound (or dollar for dollar) funding for aged home projects. In January 1956 COCWA received a grant of £5,250 from the Federal Government and became the first funded aged accommodation service in WA under the Aged Persons Homes Act 1954.

Humble Beginnings

On Saturday 25 September 1954 a group of approximately 250 people gathered on part of the property for a dedication service. Just over 2 weeks later, on Monday 11 October 1954 the first seven guests took up residence. And so began the involvement in aged care accommodation of COCWA which was the precursor of The Bethanie Group today.

As funds became available additional rooms were added and more guests moved in to live in the property. By 1955 there were 12 residents, in 1956 the numbers had grown to 18 and by 1956 to 23. During 1962 adjacent land at Joondanna was purchased and within a short time 15 residential units had been built. At the same time 11 other units were built in Subiaco in conjunction with the Subiaco Church of Christ. These units were subsequently sold and the proceeds used for future developments.

In 1965 the Board was granted 5.5 acres of land in Plantation Street, Mount Lawley and over the next 18 months, 66 home units were completed and occupied. Today we know that property as Bethanie on the Park but initially and for many years afterwards it was known as “Carinya Village”. In 1966 the Board was allocated 4.5 acres of land at Bunbury. On this land Bethanie Elanora sits today. Twelve home units had been completed and occupied by 1967. By 1969 Elanora comprised a 47 bed nursing home and 31 home units. In 1969 the Bunbury Council gave the Board a further grant of 2.5 acres of land.

In 1968 a 41 bed nursing home and seven units were completed at Carinya (now Bethanie on the Park). Recently the clubhouse at Bethanie on the Park was refurbished at a cost of approx $3 million. Everyone who has seen this refurbishment has been impressed with the very high standard achieved; and by 2014 Bethanie on the Park had 27 independent living units, 34 apartments.

In 1969 a nursing home of 47 beds and a further 19 home units was constructed at Elanora, and in 1972 a further 11 home units were constructed at Elanora. In 1974 COCWA purchased 4 acres of land from BankWest. This is the land upon which Bethanie Warwick stands today. In 1977 another hostel to accommodate 27 residents was completed at Joondanna.

Churches of Christ Homes

The inaugural meeting of the then newly formed Churches of Christ Homes Incorporated was held on 15 May 1978. As the new association expanded the range of services it offered it changed its name to Churches of Christ Homes & Community Services Inc (in 2007 it changed to Bethanie). Although legally separate, this new association remained very much connected to COCWA as only a person who was a member of a Church of Christ could be on the Board and be a member of the association.

In 1978 a further 10 units were built at Bunbury and 6 units at Joondanna. By 2014 Bethanie Joondanna has 56 independent living units and a 81 bed care facility. Of special mention for Joondanna is that in recent years Bethanie collaborated with the University of WA on the Bethanie UWA Teaching Nursing project. This project involved Bethanie providing an unoccupied space in the Joondanna Nursing Home and UWA refurbishing it to create a clinical learning environment . This project will help in the education and training of health professional students, including medicine and nursing. The project is supported by the Aged Care Association Australia WA.

In 1979, 10 new home units were built on the river in Maylands. As with the Subiaco units, these were subsequently sold and the proceeds put to future developments. On 31 May 1980 the Menora Day Centre opened, offering rehabilitation facilities plus a new 17 bed hostel, store rooms and administration offices. Also in 1980 the first 30 home units were built at Warwick and the first Chaplain was appointed by Churches of Christ Homes Inc.

In 1981 the nursing home and hostel at Warwick were completed. In 1982, the final 36 home units at Warwick were completed. Today there are 66 independent living units and a 69 bed hostel at Warwick. 26 June 1982 saw the opening of the 32 bed Bunbury hostel and extensions to the nursing home at Elanora. This meant that today Elanora has 76 villas or ILU’s and an 81 bed hostel & nursing home.

Expanding Services

In 1984 Church of Christ Homes Inc were approached by Geneff Centre for Elderly People Inc who were encountering financial; difficulties. The outcome was that Churches of Christ Homes Inc took over the liabilities and received the property of 6 acres, 41 home units, a community hall and an old family building.

In 1984 Church of Christ Homes Inc accepted an offer from the Rockingham Shire Council to administer and manage Challenge Hostel which was to be built that year. The Board also agreed to supervise the building of the Olive Laird Hostel for Aged Aboriginals in Carnarvon. Due to changing circumstances in recent years, Bethanie is no longer involved with the running of either of these facilities. In 1985, 28 home units were built at Geneff. In 1986 there were further extensions at Carinya Hostel to include a further 27 beds, dining room and lounges.

In 1987, 29 home units and a 39 bed hostel were completed at Illawong Village, Hamilton Hill. The project was a joint venture with Homes West. Today Bethanie Illawong remains with 29 home units and a 39 bed hostel. In 1989 the building of Geneff House was completed. This part of Geneff is the 4 linked houses with separate dining and kitchen areas that we still see at Bethanie Geneff . Today Bethanie Geneff has 69 villas or ILU’s and a 32 bed hostel & nursing home.

By 1990 Churches of Christ Homes Inc owned and operated 544 home units, 283 hostel rooms and 150 nursing beds, for a total of 977 residents. In addition they had an average day care of 50 persons.

In 1994 the 37 bed hostel at Kingsley was completed, while 1997 saw the 50 bed hostel at Peel Lodge, Mandurah was completed. In June 2004 the first of the Bethanie 160 bed aged care facilities was opened at Bethanie Fields in Eaton. Since then, there have also been 145 villas, a workshop and a clubhouse and social centre built at Bethanie Fields.

In November 2004, only 5 months after Bethanie Fields was opened, another 160 bed aged care facility was completed at Bethanie Waters, Port Kennedy. This property now comprises the 160 bed aged care facility and 167 villas together with a workshop and clubhouse. On 30 April 2007 an Adult Day Care Centre was opened at Bethanie Waters.

By 2006 the organisation was operating facilities in 21 different locations including Day Centres, Nursing Homes, Hostels, Apartments and Villas,. Bethanie had also expanded its services to include services delivered to clients still living in their own homes.

Becoming Bethanie

In 2007 Church of Christ Homes & Community Services Inc changed its name to Bethanie. The new name reflected not only the organisation’s heritage, however also gave the expanding aged care provider a unique brand among the Western Australian community.

In 2007 Bethanie completed construction of the its’ third 160 bed aged care facility at Bethanie Beachside, Yanchep. This site now has a 160 bed care facility, 31 villas and a clubhouse.

In August 2011 Bethanie completed construction of Bethanie Peel, This property provides 96 community housing apartments at Mandurah. The project attracted a Federal Government grant of $20m. Also in August 2011 Bethanie completed construction of Bethanie Dalyellup. This is another group of 104 community housing apartments at Dalyellup, just south of Bunbury. Again the project attracted Federal Government funding of $22m.

By the end of 2011 Bethanie had also constructed 51 villas at Bethanie Esprit at Eaton. A clubhouse was completed at the site in 2012. Also in 2012 Bethanie completed construction on part of its’ Dalyellup land of the Cancer Respite Centre for St John of God.

Bethanie has constantly been added to and improving its facilities for the past 65 years. Today Bethanie has 34 facilities in locations from Geraldton to Bunbury.

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