After 25 years in business, Mission Rest Home in New Plymouth is consulting staff on the future of its rest home services.

The charitable trust, which owns the rest home, told staff, residents and their families on Tuesday of the proposal to close the rest home.

General Manager Kim Poynter says the rest home has been widely praised in audits and had offered quality care since 1990, however the impact of the pay equity legislation and low occupancy rates meant the home’s financial viability was in jeopardy.

Poynter says the legislation, which came into effect on July 1, 2017, involves further pay rises over the next few years, significantly increasing the rest home’s costs. Unfortunately, corresponding health funding has not kept pace with those increases to meet our needs, she says.

Poynter says Mission Rest Home fully supports the job aged care workers do and the need for them to be paid fairly.

“Our staff deserve pay increases, but the reality is that the funding received along with our occupancy is not sufficient to make ends meet and we are not prepared to compromise our quality of care.”

Simon Wallace, chief executive of the New Zealand Aged Care Association is concerned that the effects of the pay equity settlement are having an adverse effect on facilities like Mission Rest Home.

“This is yet another example of how difficult the pay equity settlement has been for rest homes,” says Wallace.

“It’s a reflection of the fact that the settlement was not fully funded by the government.”

Wallace says the fact that a lot of staff have transitioned onto the highest level – Level 4 – either due to qualification equivalency or experience, has seen providers struggle to keep pace with the corresponding wages.

The trust’s proposal includes plans to use the building to provide rental accommodation for independent seniors, thereby creating an option for affordable community living. Existing supported living accommodation would not be part of this proposal and will continue unaffected.

Poynter acknowledges the proposal is a difficult and upsetting one for both residents and staff, and the focus is now on working with them during the consultation period to consider any alternative options.

“We understand this is an upsetting time for our residents and their families, and we will be working to provide them with some clarity as quickly as possibly following the consultation period.”

Wallace agrees this is a difficult time for all involved, especially staff and residents. He is hopeful that Taranaki District Health Board will work with other rest homes to ensure the smooth transition of residents to other facilities in the area.

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