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SOUTH WAIRARAPA REBUS CLUB

May 9, 2022 May 2022 No Comments

The Guest Speaker at our April meeting was Ms Joy Cooper of Martinborough who chairs the Wharekaka Trust Board. Wharekaka has been, for a number of years, an aged care community in Martinborough providing a choice in retirement living ranging from independent villas to complete hospital level care to local residents. 

In the period after the Second World War old age care was in the hands of churches, charities and various private organisations. Wharekaka started as a communal activity centre, became a day care centre and grew from there. Wharekaka Trust was formed in 1972 to support older people in Martinborough and the surrounding area with accommodation, meals and day care. There was extensive volunteer input into maintenance of the property early on but less now because volunteers are older and many women are working.

In the mid-1970s NZ had the highest rate of rest home care in the world. However, in the 1980s the emphasis changed to extending support for home-living rather than living in an institution and DHBs started closing their geriatric wards. So an additional level of care devolved on to rest homes for which the funding was quite inadequate. DHB funds hospital level care at $256 per day for folk who need two-person assistance and $164 per day for those who can’t live alone but need less assistance. Compare this with the Government payment rate for the upkeep of  presumably healthy adults in MIQ beds, ranging from $221 to $394 per day! During the 2000s Wharekaka’s substantial shortfall in funds was sustained by a number of bequests and some input from the turnover of villas. 

However, the recent loss of three registered nurses and their inability to recruit replacements has meant closure of Wharekaka hospital care because they could not provide 24 hour coverage. (The DHB pays $15,000 pa more for hospital nurses than their basic funding provides for aged-care nurses.) Without the added income generated by hospital level care beds, aged-care residential services were no longer economic, particularly with only twenty beds in this former maternity home, built in the 1950s and now in need of major upgrading.  At the end of January, the Trust gave their residents and staff notice that the facility would close on 31 March 2022. They will continue to support villa residents and are exploring ways to keep their Meals on Wheels service. They currently supply around 800 meals per month to elderly and infirm residents in their own homes in Martinborough, Greytown and Featherston. Most new retirement villages are large and owned by large companies, set up to make large profits from the old age of the wealthy boomer generation. The standard and thus cost of the accommodation built is often beyond the reach of ordinary people. Where do they go now? The issue is much wider than the South Wairarapa. “Dozens of small local facilities have been closed in the last few years” she said, citing the example of Arbour House in Greytown.

The South Wairarapa Rebus Club meets in the South Wairarapa Working Men’s Club on the fourth Friday morning of each month and organises an outing in those months with a fifth Friday. Anyone in the retired age group who may be interested in SW Rebus Club is welcome to come along to a meeting as a visitor.  Please contact David Woodhams 306 8319

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