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Another residential aged care provider to sell?

Another residential aged care provider to sell?

The announcement last week of a Hawkes Bay aged care provider contemplating selling its residential facilities is a sign of things to come unless the Government acts, according to the New Zealand Council of Christian Social Services (NZCCSS).

Commenting on the decision by Presbyterian Support East Coast to commence public consultations prior to a decision being made on whether or not to sell their residential aged care facilities, NZCCSS Vice President Gillian Bremner says Government inaction on funding is forcing some religious and welfare residential aged care providers to seriously rethink their future in the sector.

“Presbyterian Support East Coast have said in their public statements that funding of residential aged care has been ground down for ten years to the point where it is no longer sustainable unless subsidised by large scale retirement villages or other businesses. Their government fees have gone up only ten percent in seven years while its costs have gone up thirty-six percent,” Mrs Bremner says.

The imminent price increase of around three percent in residential care, while very welcome, is funding that was due last July and for many providers has already been spent. A significant funding boost is necessary to ensure the long term sustainability of the sector and to get away from a hand to mouth approach.

The Government has acknowledged the funding problem but has not taken adequate steps to deal with a deepening crisis situation.

Mrs Bremner says that Presbyterian Support East Coast have not been able to maintain their residential care and develop new services as well, noting the recent comment by Presbyterian Support East Coast’s, CEO, Shaun Robinson that “under-funding has meant that we simply haven’t been able to do both.”

In aged residential care alone, more than two thousand rest home beds operated by religious and welfare organisations have been lost or are up for sale. Christian social service organisations with long traditions of care and commitment to the needs of poor and vulnerable face difficult decisions about continuing to provide services when the prices they are paid for services by Government in no way reflect the realities of the costs of operating those services.

“We need to honour, value and support older people by ensuring they can access services that enable them to have control over their lives. NZCCSS is concerned that older people in some communities may be left without services in the future. This is because, as acknowledged by the Government, the subsidy is insufficient to cover the cost of the services required. And many community agencies can no longer afford to make up the funding shortfall”, Mrs Bremner says.


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