On Monday, Betty Poynter and Yvonne Bliss were among the first to begin calling the new state-of-the-art residential complex their home.
The building, co-designed with residents, will eventually be home to 162 people living in ‘neighbourhoods’ and includes specialist dementia support, a seniors’ friendly gym, allied health services, café and common areas.
It has been built on the same land donated by the Newman family back in 1947 specifically for an RSL care home with residents arriving from Taringa in 1950.
“It’s palatial. It’s beautiful,” says Betty, a resident at Fernhill for more than three years. “I like the neighbourhoods, they are cozy. It’s a family atmosphere.”
Yvonne, who has been at Fernhill for a year, adds: “The best thing is the building and what it contains, the decorations. You see things you don’t think you would see.”
Juliana Newman, granddaughter of James Malcolm (JM) and Gwendoline Newman who donated the land, toured the new facility on Friday and said how “proud” the family was of the new aged care centre.
“My grandparents donated their property to the RSL because of my grandfather,” says Juliana. “He served in World War I, uncles were in World War II.
“My grandparents felt very strongly about giving back to the RSL, to returned soldiers, to say thank you and for them to have a place to live.
“To see it come to this, with 160 residents, is pretty spectacular. I think it is in keeping with the dignity and respect people deserve in their later years.
“It’s wonderful to see a facility like this.”
The dementia facility has been named the Newman Memory Support Centre in recognition of the family’s historic links to the site. Other connections include:
Stonework in the courtyard has also been preserved from the original Newman House gardens in the 1940s and 50s
A 14th century sun dial will be placed in the gardens; service medals from previous residents are on display and beams from the administration building, which became a chapel in the 1990s, have been made into a commemorative cross.
Learn about the history of Fernhill which opened in 1950 as a war veterans home, donated by the Newman family in 1947. Footage below is from the first move-in in 1950 when residents moved to Fernhill from ‘Kingshome,’ the war veterans home at Taringa