The new Quakers Hill nursing home will be three times bigger than the one where 11 elderly residents were killed in a fire about a year ago, the home's group managing director Gary Barnier said.
He said the $25 million project at Hambledon Road will be ready early next year and will have the most advanced fire prevention devices in NSW and a memorial garden dedicated to the fire’s victims.
Watch our video of the sod turning below:
Mr Barnier, managing director for the Domain Principal group, which owns the nursing home, spoke to the Sun before the sod breaking ceremony to mark the start of construction work today.
Three elderly residents died during the November 18, 2011 inferno and eight died from injuries soon afterwards.
Thirty two of the residents were taken to hospital with serious injuries and since the fire, 28 have died.
Mr Barnier was joined by NSW Ageing and Disability Services Minister Andrew Constance, State Opposition leader John Robertson and Riverstone MP Kevin Conolly.
Others who also attended were Fire and Rescue Commissioner Greg Mullins, Quakers Hill Local Area Commander, acting Superintendent Lynelle Rodwell and Councillor Mark Holmes.
Blacktown Council approved Domain Principal Group’s development application to rebuild the home last December.
Mr Barnier said the proposed nursing home would be built on the 6300 square metre Hambledon Road site.
“Today is a momentous day for us and for residents of Quakers Hill as we begin to rebuild this facility that will serve as a vitally needed home for our older generation,” Mr Barnier said.
‘‘The new Quakers Hill Nursing Home will be one of the state’s most modern aged care facilities and cater for the needs of residents now and in the future.
‘‘It will have 79 single and 24 double rooms, and a purpose built and designed dementia wing, allowing for up 127 residents.
‘‘Construction will create around 150 full-time jobs. Once the new home is rebuilt, it will employ up to 130 staff.’’
Minister Constance described today as ‘‘a day of hope and reflection for those who lost their loved ones and those who escaped from the inferno.’’
‘‘We have learnt a lot from this horrific incident and hope it would never happen again,’’ he said.
Mr Robertson said he was very pleased to see the project resulting from a tragedy come to fruition.
‘‘The new nursing home will stand as a beacon to our elderly residents in the community,’’ he said.
Mr Mullins said NSW Fire and Rescue had learnt a lot from the tragedy and that the new nursing home would have the most modern and efficient fire prevention and safety devices.
Meanwhile Roger Dean, a nurse at the home, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the 11 people who died from the fire.
He also pleaded not guilty to eight charges of recklessly causing grievous bodily harm.
His case will be heard in the Supreme Court in May this year.