St Agnes' Care and Lifestyle - Donnelly House

Our Plans for the Future

Emmaus Village Update November 2023

St Agnes’ Catholic Parish is excited to share that Emmaus Village, a ground-breaking community designed for individuals living with dementia, is approaching the final stages of construction. We are now accepting enquiries and expressions of interest through the new Emmaus Village website.

Set to open in March 2024, Emmaus Village draws inspiration from the globally acclaimed The Hogeweyk® ‘small home’ model in the Netherlands and is set to redefine the care and support provided to people living with dementia.

CEO of St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, Tony Leahy, who was appointed in March 2023, speaks to the need for enhanced dementia care in the Port Macquarie region, which has the third-highest rate of dementia in Australia, saying, “St Agnes’ Catholic Parish has aspired to create an inspiring and innovative dementia village that empowers residents to maintain dignity, freedom, and choice.”

Emmaus Village has been meticulously designed in collaboration with Dementia Australia, the Dementia Friendly Community Alliance, and other community organisations to ensure residents feel a sense of home and continue to maintain their independence in a safe, secure, and welcoming environment. At the core of Emmaus Village is the Community Centre, which features a corner store, cinema, music room, and a café which is also open to the public, encouraging residents to continue socialising and relishing life’s pleasures.

If you are interested in living, working, or volunteering at Emmaus Village, please visit for more information.

Emmaus Village update January 2023

Community Centre foundations laid

In December, Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and St Agnes’ Catholic Parish Chief Executive Officer Adam Spencer inspected the laying of concrete foundations for a Community Centre at Emmaus Village. In 2020, the NSW Government announced $5 million funding for the Community Centre, the hub for all the social amenities that make Emmaus Village unique. “Residents will be able to enjoy a café, a wellness centre with beauty and massage, arts and crafts, a music room, cinema, GP clinic and more,” Mrs Williams said. St Agnes’ Catholic Parish CEO Adam Spencer said the holistic dementia-specific service “will ensure the Mid North Coast is a lighthouse for dementia care in NSW”.

Paul Shields joins Emmaus Village Project Team

Appointed as Executive Manager, Residential Care in November, Paul’s responsibilities include leading the Emmaus Village project. He brings over 20 years of senior management experience, the past 12 years of which have been in executive leadership roles in the aged care sector. Paul has held roles with Regis Aged Care (QLD & NSW State Manager), Profke Aged Care Group (CEO), Japara Healthcare (State GM), Greengate (COO) and most recently with Summerset Group as their GM, Operations & Corporate Services. We welcome Paul to the Parish and to his role at Emmaus Village.

General construction update

Throughout December, a number of concrete pours resulted in the completion of all foundations for the Community Centre. Demolition has also been completed on the Emmaus chapel in preparation for the construction of an extended Emmaus Chapel.

Early in the project’s construction a time lapse camera was installed to record the progress of the project to date.

Emmaus Village update July 2022

Emmaus Village is now the official name of the project, which up until now was commonly known as the ‘Memory Support Village’. The name was changed for two main reasons. Firstly, it is located on the site of Emmaus, where our existing residential care service is located, so it makes sense to use the name ‘Emmaus’ to denote the location common to both services. In doing so, the name ‘Emmaus’ will become well-recognised as a provider of high-quality, long-standing and innovative aged care. Secondly, while the term ‘Memory Support’ is an important component in our approach to caring for people living with dementia, it is one part of a multi-faceted approach, and as such was removed from the name. Emmaus Village has a holistic approach to caring for residents based on a proven innovative model that is tailored to the specific needs of people living with dementia.

Our journey in planning and designing this project has been a long one. Visible progress on the project began when construction works commenced in March. On average, 1000 tonnes of backfill were imported per day onto the site for the project, which shows the true scale of this phase of works. Below you can see aerial photography that shows progression of these works over time. This part of the project was completed in early July and construction has commenced on the building of retaining walls. There is a virtual reality fly-through where you can view a representation of what Emmaus Village will look like once complete? Click here to view it.

Construction works begin on innovative dementia village

Construction works has commenced on regional NSW’s first Memory Support Village, an innovative concept that will address the pressing need for dementia care in Port Macquarie and surrounds.

St Agnes’ Catholic Parish Chief Executive Officer Adam Spencer said the beginning of works is the realisation of years of planning to address this community need.

“In 2008 we began planning for the vacant land next to our Emmaus residential care service on Colonel Barney Drive to best address the aged care needs of our community.”

“With Port Macquarie’s increasing aged population and third highest prevalence rate of dementia in NSW, we focused on developing the concept of a residential village based on a proven, innovative model of care specific to the needs of people with dementia,” Mr Spencer said.

“Our planning and research informed us in developing the concept and design of the Memory Support Village, which will become the next level in responding to a growing demand for this specialised area of aged care. Initial works has begun, which involves preparation of the land for the next stage of construction,” Mr Spencer said.

“Both our Federal and State Government representatives are well aware of this local need for dementia care and are supportive of our approach to deliver this innovative model to our community.”

In October last year the Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan announced that the project was successful in $6.5 million in funding under the Building Better Regions Fund.

“This inspiring project will be the first of its kind on the NSW Mid North Coast and in regional NSW, accommodating 94 residents in 12 homes set within a village-style environment. It has been designed with resident wellbeing in mind, providing an environment which offers engagement, social interaction and time outdoors designed to improve the quality of life of residents,” Mr Conaghan said.

Member for Port Macquarie Leslie Williams had previously announced $5 million in funding for the Memory Support Village Community Centre, which is an integral component of the project.

“The funding will help build the Community Centre in the village, which houses all the social amenities that make this facility unique.”

“Residents will be able to enjoy a café, wellness centre with beauty and massage; arts and crafts, a music room, library, cinema, GP clinic and a virtual reality lounge,” Mrs Williams said.

“The commencement of works on this project is truly a milestone for the Parish as we become another step closer to ensuring the NSW Mid North Coast becomes a lighthouse for dementia care in Australia. It is with great anticipation that we expect the project’s completion by mid-2023,” Mr Spencer concluded.

Dementia-specific Community Centre funding announced

On 27 October 2020, NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle would receive a State Government grant of $5 million for the building of a dementia-specific community centre.

St Agnes’ Catholic Parish Chief Executive Officer Adam Spencer welcomed the funding announcement by the Premier.

“On behalf of our Parish Priest Fr Paul Gooley and St Agnes’ Care and Lifestyle General Manager Bronwyn Chalker, I welcome the funding provided by the State Government and am delighted the Premier has taken the time to visit Port Macquarie today to announce the grant,” Mr Spencer said. “The grant will enable us to begin the first stage of a holistic dementia-specific service that will ensure the NSW Mid North Coast is a lighthouse for dementia care in NSW. In this first stage we will build the Emmaus Memory Support Community Centre to provide respite care, memory support programs and day services for those with dementia and other ageing issues.”

“The Community Centre will be a hub for both residents and the local community and the next stage of building will include village-style accommodation specially designed for residents with dementia.”

“Ultimately, this unique facility will offer a café, wellness centre with beauty and massage; arts and crafts, a music room, library, cinema and a GP clinic,” he concluded.

Funding for Innovative Dementia Care Announced

St Agnes’ Catholic Parish CEO Adam Spencer joined Federal Member for Cowper Pat Conaghan on 8 October for the announcement of funding for the St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle, which is the aged care service provider of St Agnes’ Catholic Parish, was the successful applicant of $6.5 million under the Building Better Regions Fund.

“I’m extremely pleased to secure the funding for this ground-breaking facility. When I first saw the plans it was incredibly inspiring,” Mr Conaghan said. “The team at St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle has undertaken extensive research into the latest gold-standard practices for caring for those living with Dementia developed in the Netherlands and will be bringing that to Australia.”

St Agnes’ Catholic Parish CEO Adam Spencer welcomed the announcement and the support of the project offered by the Federal Member for Cowper.

“On behalf of our Parish Priest Fr Paul Gooley and St Agnes’ Care and Lifestyle General Manager Bronwyn Chalker, I welcome the funding provided by the Federal Government and am delighted to be able to officially announce the grant,” Mr Spencer said. “Mr Conaghan has always been extremely supportive of this project and is as passionate as we are about its intended outcome, which will make such a difference in the lives of those affected by dementia and their families, as well as giving the local economy a boost in terms of job creation.”

“The funding will ensure that Port Macquarie will become a lighthouse for dementia care in Australia.” You can read the full announcement here.

St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle Masterplan

The longest-serving and largest provider of aged care in the region, St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle is committed to addressing the changing needs of community as it ages. Our plan to provide these services for the next 20 years and beyond is called the St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle Masterplan.

The Masterplan provides a strategy for the investment in the future of local aged care which will include new construction of, and upgrading of existing services.

The Parish lodged DAs under the name ‘St Agnes’ Care & Lifestyle’ with Port Macquarie-Hastings Council to develop the vacant land next to Emmaus on Colonel Barney Drive to build a specially dedicated service to look after those with dementia and related conditions. Residents will live in small groups in the style of a village community offering a service that will be the first of its kind on the NSW Mid-North Coast and in the broader NSW regional area. This will begin an exciting new era for the Parish as a leading and innovative provider of care to the local community.

See an artist’s impression (opposite) of the reception of the proposed new Emmaus building.

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