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Wintringham, Melbourne

Melbourne Vic Australia

Photo WintringhamTAN_4498.GIFTAN_4551.GIF


Project Selection

Wintringham may contain a number of the following features but it has been identified by the Steering Committee specifically because it:

Mixes people from diverse socio economic levels
Caters to a range of age groups
Offers a diversity in service types
Employs community engagement in the development process
Is an innovative model designed to accommodate ageing in place
Provides housing options for a particular population groups Y
Has undertaken conversions and/or changes of use of existing facilities
Uses mixed financial funding bases
Has demonstrable Environmentally Sustainable Design features

The following project description compiles information prepared by Wintringham available at their website: and from an interview with CEO Bryan Lipmann.

Project Overview

Wintringham was founded in 1989 with the goal of providing homeless and at risk older people with housing and services that encourage independence. Wintringham currently provides 236 aged care residential facility beds over five sites in Melbourne and delivers a wide range of community based aged care services to homeless or at risk men and women. This project write-up has a focus on Wintringham’s residential services.

Bryan Lipmann the founding CEO of Wintringham states:  “the service was developed from the frustration and growing anger as we watched old men and women dying at Gordon House, unable to gain access to the aged care system. The reluctance of aged care providers to take our homeless residents remains a scandalous blight on the ethics of the industry.”

Why it is an innovative project

The Wintringham model developed from a melding of aged care, social justice and homeless service principles. Many residents enter Wintringham from institutional backgrounds compared with most people who enter mainstream aged care from relatively independent lifestyles in their own homes.

Rather than creating a specific model and asking all who live in Wintringham to adapt to this, the service adapts to meet their needs. Wintringham has an array of ‘models of care’, from those that are extremely structured and directive, to those which focus on empowering residents and responding to their requests.

By providing housing that encourages independence but offers support, Wintringham creates an environment that restores residents’ sense of self worth, facilitating their active engagement in the community. As a result, many new Wintringham residents quickly begin to display skills that had remained unused for years on entering the residential facility environment.

Built Environment

Wintringham considers the design of all their buildings as primary evidence of their values. The provision of lockable, well-appointed and consistently maintained units, featuring a mix of private and communal spaces and landscaped surrounds, enables residents to feel secure, respected, re-connected and at home.

To promote privacy, each resident has their own bedroom, ensuite and lounge/dining area.  Wintringham aims to enhance privacy and personal freedom through reducing traditional residential aged care communal areas and positioning the administrative area in an unobtrusive place. Residents are encouraged to gather through communal verandas and gardens but the existence of front and back doors, private verandas and gardens also allow residents to choose the level of interaction they have with the rest of the community.

Wintringham has consciously set out to create a liveable environment that is enjoyable to live and work within. Extensive use is made of soft building materials, such as timber weatherboards instead of brick; cedar window frames instead of aluminium; bitumen instead of concrete.

By focusing on principles of privacy and independence, residents are encouraged to take pride in their homes. Wintringham aims: “to replace the sense of futility and hopelessness that is associated with life in homeless persons’ night shelters, with a genuine sense of self worth and personal dignity.”

Service Model

The first principle of the Wintringham model of care is to deliver a range of services for the resident population in a non-clinical, non-institutional style. To support enabling models over protective models of care, residents take an active part in the running of facilities.

Rather than creating a specific model and asking all who live in Wintringham to adapt to this, the service adapts to meet their needs. The service model is designed to provide opportunities for residents to maintain and learn new life skills.

In response to the number of residents with addictions and related behavioural problems, Wintringham developed a non-judgemental harm minimisation policy.  Though illegal drug use is not tolerated, drinking and smoking are permitted. Provided their behaviour does not negatively impact on others, residents are essentially free to conduct their lives as they wish.  The result is a highly personalised program that balances the needs of each client with their financial resources and takes into account the impact to their health and well being through continued addictive behaviour.

Who the Project Serves

Wintringham is a highly targeted welfare company working with homeless and financially disadvantaged older people. The majority of Wintringham clients are male, single and from a working class background.  As a consequence of a homeless lifestyle, Wintringham’s resident group has a large representation of people with many of the following characteristics:

    no regular contact or support from family and friends

    a need for guardianship support or administrative and financial support

    low level skills in activities of daily living

    early ageing and complex care needs

    unwillingness to readily engage with services and communal activities.

    high incidence of psychological illness and/or acquired brain impairment and or social/behavioural issues

    high prevalence of issues relating to gambling, alcohol addiction and abuse

    higher rates of illness, drug dependency and injury than the general population

Funding Sources

The majority of Wintringham’s funding is Federal aged care funding. However, its identification as a housing service has also enabled the organisation to use a whole-of-government approach rather than relying exclusively upon funding from Commonwealth and State aged care departments. Wintringham has never applied or accepted money from the homeless service system. Clients and residents are elderly and treated as part of the aged care services system. Wintringham charges lower than the standard aged care fee, set at 79% of the aged pension.

Project Auspice

Wintringham’s founding and enduring values are: Options, Dignity and Rights.  The unofficial Wintringham slogan is ‘to create a home until stumps’.

Wintringham staff are motivated by social justice principles and a belief that all elderly homeless people are entitled to receive the same type of services that the rest of the aged community receives. Wintringham services include residential care facilities, accommodation options, community care and outreach services. Wintringham provides 236 high and low care residential aged care beds, 450 community aged care and EACH packages, two rooming houses and 358 housing units for older people.

The company sees itself as a housing provider that delivers aged care services. Wintringham argues their clients are ‘aged and homeless’ and not ‘homeless and aged’ and therefore should be part of mainstream aged care funding program and not part of the relatively poorly funded homeless services system.

Recognition of Wintringham’s work can be found in the Government’s 2008 White Paper, The Road Home and they also won the1997 United Nations World Habitat Award for their Port Melbourne facility.

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