01/03/2018 - 13:55

Oryx takes choice to new heights

01/03/2018 - 13:55

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Oryx Communities is set to develop a series of premium projects in the established suburbs of Perth, with a vision to grow apartment living.

Oryx takes choice to new heights
Toby Browne-Cooper (left), Nita Peploe and architect James Turnbull plan to develop premium aged care precincts. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Nita Peploe grew up surrounded by the business of aged care, and now has ambitious plans to grow her company, Oryx Communities, into a provider of premium aged care services through apartment living.

A lawyer by training, Ms Peploe is the daughter of Rhonda Peploe, founder of aged care services provider Continuing Health Care.

Ms Peploe launched Oryx in 2015, and the business made its first big move late last year, acquiring The Richardson Hotel & Spa and beginning the process of refurbishing the building for aged care use.

Oryx now plans a single-storey apartment-style development in Nedlands and a high-rise development in Mount Pleasant, along with potential apartment properties in South Perth, City Beach, Fremantle and other well-established areas.

The Oryx development plans come amid a range of moves by other providers aiming to offer product diversity in the aged care space.

Late last year, Rosewood Care Group was granted approval for a $74 million, five-storey home in West Perth, and last month Bethanie launched 48 aged care-specific serviced apartments.

Residents are expected to move into the one- and two-bedroom Bethanie apartments in Menora in coming weeks. 

Ms Peploe said location choice was an important part of the process for Oryx’s projects.

“I think it’s fair to say all our projects are in locations that necessitate being a premium service,” Ms Peploe told Business News.

“There hasn’t been a lot of choice in the industry for a premium feeling product.”

Managing director Toby Browne-Cooper said Oryx’s target within the next three to five years was to have 500 to 1,000 beds operational.

“We have a vision to become a lead operator in Western Australia and it’s fair to say we’re on track for achieving that,” Mr Browne-Cooper told Business News.

Having worked alongside Mr Browne-Cooper at Continuing Health Care (as managing director and director respectively), Ms Peploe established Oryx following the divestment of Continuing Health Care in 2014, when it sold the majority of its assets to Mercy Care.

Ms Peploe said she was looking to grow Oryx and use her experience to develop more innovative offerings in Perth.

Oryx Communities has been awarded bed licences as an official aged care provider for Nedlands, Mt Pleasant, and West Perth.

The Richardson is planned to open as a 92-bed facility around July this year, while the new Nedlands development will host about 75 beds, pending approval, and open within the next two years, and Mount Pleasant within two to three years.

Other planned projects will offer closer to 100 beds and be higher than The Richardson’s seven storeys.

Mr Browne-Cooper said facilities had by necessity been in the outer suburbs where land was available to build sprawling developments, but the industry had evolved.

“We think Perth is ready for apartment living,” he said.

Mr Browne-Cooper said some of the larger developments would be mixed-use precincts, offering childcare facilities and intergenerational programs run between the elderly and the children.

“There might be some apartments that suit retirees, and then there might be some apartments that suit an NDIS-type care recipient, and then possibly some commercial space with a physio and a chiro as well,” he said.

“We’re not doing that at The Richardson because it’s too small, but we certainly have that philosophy of interactions between residents and their families.

“And that extends to relationships with pets, so we’ll see cats and dogs and birds at our places, people caring for plants; it sounds simple, but (existing companies) don’t do a very good job of it here.”

Mr Browne-Cooper described Oryx’s approach as following a ‘care philosophy’ that steered away from an institutional, hospital-like model.

“We’ve talked to a lot of institutions around the country and you’ll still see operators, architects, and builders building nursing homes that are like hospitals; so, long corridors, vinyl, and a shared living space down the end of the corridor that’s typically vacant,” he said.

Oryx developments will avoid corridors and build around groups of 10 to 15 residents who share a residential pod and a living space with a kitchenette.

“It’s where the toast is cooked, the coffee is brewed and it smells and feels like a kitchen – that’s all serviced from a commercial kitchen and laundry behind the scenes, but it’s creating that small, intimate atmosphere,” Mr Browne-Cooper said.

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