Setback for community

Arbor House rest home and hospital in Greytown. PHOTO/FILE

KAREN COLTMAN

karen.coltman@age.co.nz

Arbor House rest home in Greytown, which cares for 19 residents and employs 40 people, will close before the end of next month.

The announcement was made yesterday and staff were told in a meeting with management yesterday.

“It is with great regret that the board and Arbor House management unanimously agree that it can’t continue to operate,” said Rob Tuckett yesterday.

The home has 25 single bedrooms.  It is independent and run by a community charitable trust, chaired for the past 11 years by Tuckett, a retired doctor.

The Wairarapa District Health Board [DHB] said in a statement it was confident it could find new places in for all residents, but it would be in Carterton or Masterton.

“We will be working hard to identify the most suitable care options and solutions that meet the needs of each of the residents and their families,” DHB chief executive Dale Oliff said.

“The DHB will ensure Arbor House board and management, residents and their families, and staff are well supported during this challenging time.”

Arbor House has operated for more than 30 years following the closure in the mid-1980s of geriatric care at  Greytown Hospital in Hospital Lane.

Tuckett said that despite the board’s best efforts, it couldn’t carry on and provide the high-quality level of care that residents have expected and received.

“The board and our whole staff have worked tirelessly to keep the facility open.  But our total vulnerability to resident numbers dropping below a critical level, which they have, is not sustainable.

He said several beds had been empty the past month and could not continue sustaining loss in revenue.

“If the beds are full, we just survived. But this winter, we ended up with seven empty beds and carrying this loss for any longer was just not possible for us.

“Each time this happens, we have used some of our reserves, but as a small trust without access to more capital, these reserves have effectively disappeared, leaving us with no option but to close.”

The board had managed its debt by selling the land and buildings, but resident numbers had dropped.

“Over the past few annual general meetings, it has been clear that costs were going up and numbers dropping.

“I know it is a setback for the community and I feel personally affected today and upset.

“It has been a hard road recently knowing this was looming.

“It was an upsetting day for the staff who have been superb in the level of care that they have always provided. “They should be proud of their contribution to Arbor House’s reputation as a high-quality caring facility that is highly regarded in the community and in the sector.”

The board was grateful for the contributions from the community, former and current residents, staff, medical professionals and volunteers who worked there over many years.