Challenges for Arbor House
Residential or Home Care?
Greytown’s Arbor House is asking how to respond to nation-wide challenges, says it’s Chairman, Dr. Tuckett.
Arbor House is an age-related care provider, established in 1986 by a local group. This group included Ed Cooke, solicitor with WCM Legal, and Dr. Doug Banks, who had been the Greytown GP until 1974. Dr. Rob Tuckett was the local GP in Greytown from 1974 until 1997. He has been Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Board of Arbor House since 2007.
This original group saw a need to provide a place within the community for “our frail elderly people and to establish a residence to be known as Arbor House” as its Trust Deed states. The existing, but then disused, building that had started as the Greytown Maternity Home, later Children’s Social Welfare Home, clearly fitted the bill, says Dr. Tuckett.
The Trust Deed set up a Board of 5-7 Trustees of whom one is appointed by the local council, one appointed by the local churches, and one by the local Service Clubs.
What developed was initially a Rest Home with capacity for 19 Residents. This was the shape of Arbor House until 2009. At that point, it became clear to the Board of Trustees that to provide for the increasing need in our community to care for more highly dependent residents they would have to change 10 of their beds to “Hospital Care Level”. At the time it was evident that there was a gradual decreasing need to provide care at rest home level. With the change to provide Hospital Level Care comes a Ministry of Health requirement for full cover 24/7 in the home with trained registered nurses. Inevitably this increased costs but maintained our service to the community to which we are committed.
However, as a not-for- profit community based trust, we have the real advantage that funds generated by residents are all applied to the running of Arbor House, says Dr. Tuckett.
In 2012/13 it became clear to the Trustees that an establishment of only 19 beds was too small to be safely viable financially. As a result, a new wing of 6 fully equipped rooms at hospital level was added. This was the maximum that could be fitted in to the ground space of the original site on Main Street next to the Fire Station.
Now, with 26 rooms for residents and a potential for up to 16 of them at Hospital level, we have seen that Arbor House is fully able to meet the original vision of the Trust Deed as well as the needs of our community, with the reservation, of course, that the occupancy rate remains high.
However, the Chairman says it has become increasingly clear in recent months that again there are changing trends in the way age-related care is being provided. It is being noted nationally that occupancy has in fact been falling across the sector. We certainly see a definite decrease in the demand for rest home level care which is now obvious. At the same time the need for hospital level care is increasing. The new factor in the equation appears to be that the policy of District Health Boards favours “aging in place” (i.e. at home). This is resulting in a reduction in demand for facility based Aged Residential Care, says Dr. Tuckett.
This “contrived” reduction in demand must now start to threaten the future viability of many of the smaller providers of residential care around New Zealand if it continues. These homes, like Arbor House, are all greatly valued by their local communities. They are well run and homely. There are reasons to believe that already there are a number of the most highly dependent people now receiving home care who would be better served by having 24 hour care provided in a fully equipped residential home.
There is a need now that this developing situation must be properly recognised and addressed if we are to honour our commitment to the elderly in our community, says Dr. Tuckett.