Tag Archives: wairarapa

Call for urgent changes to aged care by three Wairarapa rest homes

David Famularo, July 2017

Chris Clarke, Manager at Carter Court Rest Home in Carterton, is not a man given to over-exaggeration.

Never-the-less, the picture he paints of the financial challenges facing Carter Court and other not-for-profit rest homes in the Wairarapa is sobering.

Last May,  Carter Society Incorporated (Carter Court Rest Home in Carterton),  Arbor House (Arbor House Rest Home in Greytown)and Wharekaka Trust (Wharekaka Rest Home in Martinborough) sent an open letter to the Wairarapa’s MPs and candidates in this year’s general election.

The catalyst was the pay equity settlement which saw a significant increase in pay for care workers in rest homes.

While the three rest homes see this as a “significant milestone”, it has had the flow-on effect of creating an imbalance in remuneration, with care workers now earning more than other staff with similar levels of skills and responsibilities,  and close to that of staff with significantly higher levels of skills and responsibilities such as nurses.

Carter Court has addressed this by giving all its staff a pay increase, says Chris.

“The carers’  pay increase threatened the team feeling and co-operation that is essential for our services. We didn’t want to undermine staff morale and goodwill by sending the wrong message to all our staff. We want all our staff to know they are genuinely valued.”

The three rest homes are calling for rapid action by the government to achieve gender equity across all sectors – “through much faster means than a series of employment court battles.”

But there are other issue in play as well, says Chris.

One of these is level of funding rest homes receive and how it is calculated.

Rest homes receive a set amount of funding on a per-resident basis. Healthcare in general in New Zealand is underfunded with aged care the Cinderella of health spending with no significant funding increases for years until the pay equity settlement.

“We got a  1.8 percent increase in the subsidy on July 1st but the CPI in the quarter to March was 2.2 percent so effectively our funding is going backwards.”

Meanwhile costs associated with running a rest home continue to rise.

“Compliance has increased tenfold in recent years diverting valuable resources away from the coal face and annual subsidy increases of up to one percent are totally inadequate.”

To balance their budget, the three rest homes need an almost 100 percent occupancy rate. While this is the situation at the moment, there is never any guarantee that that will remain the case.

“The present funding mechanism doesn’t enable rest homes, particularly in smaller towns and rural areas, to remain viable because occupancy numbers can fluctuate.”

Rest homes like Carter Court need to  be still around in a few years because demand for their services will inevitably increase. In the Wairarapa, the number of residents aged 65 and over is predicted to go from 18.3 percent in 2013 to 23 percent by 2043.

The present government policy is to support elderly people in their own homes for as long as possible. While the three rest homes say this is laudable in their open letter, “our experience tells us that there are elderly who are vulnerable, socially isolated and live in unsafe environments.

“Often there is a huge burden on other family members as well, especially as the elderly person becomes increasingly incapacitated.”

Chris says that while it is great that people are independent for as long as possible, some elderly people need to move into a rest home earlier and there needs to be a better transition process.

“The government needs to take a close look at the provision of care in community and how we support our elderly as they encounter the reality of needing more support – and every part of our community needs to be engaged.

“It’s all about how people are supported into full-time care and how communities can help, so when they move into a rest home they can still be connected to their communities – their church, clubs, friends and family.”

This is one of the reason that the survival of small community rest homes is so important, Chris believes.

“With the loss of Ultimate Care Greytown, for example, residents in the South Wairarapa now have severely limited options and have to move to Masterton and elsewhere.”

Another looming issue is the housing crisis. Not every older person owns their own home or has enough equity in it to sell up and move into a retirement village.

The Carter Society’s low cost rental accommodation is in strong demand and there is always full occupancy, Chris notes.

“Although it has only been small numbers to date, the Carter Society has been approached by elderly who are losing their rental accommodation and have few options on where to go.”

The three rest homes believe the government is not providing leadership on aged care.

“We need to have plans at national and local levels to ensure that we have the right mix of services and resources. The challenge of government is to establish and implement policies that show a commitment to addressing what are very important issues for our communities,” they say in the open letter.

They would like to see immediate action on redressing the funding mechanism so that rest homes are properly supported to remain open.

“We don’t want any more to close, says Chris. “I understand there is a funding revision going to happen but we have no idea of terms of reference or the scope of review – this is a quite serious situation with one of most vulnerable sections in community.”

The rest homes want a fair and equitable scale of remuneration for all aged care staff,  along with an increased recognition of what they do.

“We would like funding to reflect both the real costs we encounter  and reflect skills of staff. Caring for the elderly can be hard work and often staff are working with difficult and complicated health needs,” says Chris.

And they want the government to ensure that smaller locally owned services are valued and supported.

“The biggest tragedy is that we have lost some very important beds in the South Wairarapa and how are we going to get them back.”

Chris says there has been various levels of feedback from everyone who received the open letter.

NB Since this interview Chris has resigned as Manager at Carter Court to join the Red Cross Trauma Recovery Service in Wellington as Manager

ICAN: We are all transistors: Carla Cescon, Scott Donovan and Alex Gawronski

ICAN: We are all transistors: Carla Cescon, Scott Donovan and Alex Gawronski

Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art & History, February 2012

The spin on this exhibition which you can find on the Aratoi website here is that We Are All Transistors revisits Modernism, with Centrepoint, designed by Roger Walker and erected in Masterton’s shopping centre, its centre point.

As some of the photographs printed in the Wairarapa Times Age at the time of its construction attest, Walker with his long curling hair and youthful countenance was the “l’enfant terrible” of the New Zealand architectural scene.

And it’s true, Centrepoint was constructed at the tail end of the Modernist movement which was still making its presence felt in New Zealand.

But here’s the funny thing. Centrepoint really strikes me as more Postmodern than Modern. Architectural Modernism was all about truth to materials, simplicity, a repudiation of all historical precedents etc.

The architectural plans for Centrepoint (which are presented in the show as an installation in themselves, reminiscent of the hieroglyphics of an Egyptian tomb) reveal a design more akin to the Romanesque, with peaked tower, cluster of “cottages,” exposed wooden beams and white columns.

In my memory, there were two Centrepoints – the one that was opened while the Wairarapa, along with the rest of New Zealand, was experiencing one of the most prosperous periods in its history.

“According to government statistics Masterton one of the nation’s top retail towns per head of population, and per annum spending amongst the highest in New Zealand,” the exhibition quotes.

The other was the down-in-the-dumps Centrepoint, suffering along with the rest of the town the recession of the early 1980s which was felt particularly hard in provincial regions like the Wairarapa.

I have to say that I associate Centrepoint more with the latter. Indeed, I can remember regularly walking through when barely three or four of its 21 shops were leased, one of them being the town’s record store.

The 75 metre tower had been closed to the public for many years by then, after being a magnet for misbehaviour such as urination.

The decline of Centrepoint is accidently mirrored in the photographs in the exhibition – the warm orange tinged Kodak colours of the early 1970s replaced by the cooler blue tinged Agfa colours of the early 1980s.

This was certainly not the vision developers Brierly–Jones Investments (NZ) Ltd had in mind when Walker was given virtually carte blanche to come up with his design, the only specific request being that there should be an arcade.

As far as the directors were concerned, it was “a desirable investment with excellent prospects of capital appreciation and consequent increase in income.”

Of course, Masterton being a conservative town, Centrepoint had its critics, with the noticeable absence of the town’s mayor and councillors at the official opening.

And the truth is, the town never really took the building to its heart. Even when Centrepoint was demolished in 1997, there were few tears and definitely no outcry as had regularly accompanied the destruction of other historic buildings in Masterton’s CBD (all of the protests, I should point out, failed to stop a single demolition).

In fact, one small portion of Centrepoint still stands, home to a jewellery shop after the tenant, whom I suspect had a long term lease, refused to cave in.

We Are All Transistors is one half historical recollection and one half re-interpretation, the latter referencing the past for fresh perspective which does make it all the more stimulating and original, although the link between Centrepoint, Modernism and socio-political thought is paper-thin at times.

I enjoy the quirky juxtaposition of such elements as a bust of Carl Marx, a rude approximation of the capsule of Apollo 11, and references to Dresden and Hiroshima.

But I don’t sense any of those qualities which the artists rightfully claim underpinned Modernism – its inherent utopianism and optimism – which was also informed the spirit of the 1960s counter-culture generation of which Walker was a part.

Instead I feel the show has more of an affinity with the mood of Centrepoint in the 1980s – the post party downer when the conservative movement checked (but have not yet checkmated) the counter revolution as the dominant ideology.

All the artists involved in this collaboration seem to be channelling the 1980s more than the 1970s, as exemplified by the Dresden Café installation with its rubber pot plant that to my mind dates more to the early 1980s, as does the container pot it sits in.

It’s not that the artists don’t attempt to acknowledge the Modernist ethos. It’s just that they can’t recapture its spirit, probably due to being members of either Generation X or Y.

Centrepoint’s replacement, a rather pathetic building housing a bank, is not aligned to any movement or spirit whatsoever, and it shows. Its only attempt at visual appeal being a sad toupee of an embellishment in the top corner of the building.

Whatever one’s views on Centrepoint, it was at least memorable. Where it failed had probably little to do with how it looked, and more to do with the generic failure of arcades with shopping off the main street.

What remains of the former Centrepoint Shopping Centre in Masterton
What remains of the former Centrepoint Shopping Centre in Masterton