Fears for future of rest-home

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Kurow rest-home Whalan Lodge faces closure if more residents cannot be found.
Financial issues at the lodge date back several years and have now come to a head, which has resulted in pleas from the Whalan Lodge Trust for expressions of interest from people who may require aged care in the near future.
The lodge has five full-time residents, while it also offers short-term respite care and care for people recovering from major surgeries.
It needs eight full-time residents to be financially viable.
“Major decisions need to be made before the end of winter,” trust chairman Hugh Cameron said.
“The overriding thing is we can’t keep going the way we are, but we’ve got a negative cashflow and the simple fact is need to become more sustainable.
“If we don’t get more residents, the future isn’t great … you just can’t throw money at it.”He said another issue was that more and more elderly people were being cared for at home until that was no longer possible, which resulted in them being moved to facilities such as Oamaru’s Iona Home and Hospital, which offered hospital-level care.
That meant the trust had been forced to look at other ways to generate income.
A beauty therapy business will soon open at the lodge’s manager’s residence, which Mr Cameron described as being a “complementary business opportunity”.
If Whalan Lodge was to close, nine staff, both fulltime and part-time, would be affected. Residents would also have to be relocated.
Mr Cameron said closure would spell the end for aged care in the Kurow community.
“I think we’re very concerned that if we shut, it’s highly unlikely we would ever open again.”The lodge was fully occupied four years ago but occupancy levels dropped _ for “various reasons”, Mr Cameron said _ and new lessees had difficulties running the lodge.
In an effort to keep the business afloat, the trust assisted them with rent relief, insurance payments and paying for mandatory audit requirements, but by December 2013, the lessees felt the business was no longer viable.
A report from Mr Cameron said the trust resolved to “do whatever it took” to keep the lodge open, despite it having only two residents.
The Ministry of Education contract to provide services for aged care was transferred to the trust in April 2014.
Despite an increase in residents, the facility continued to lose money and a public meeting to address the issue was held in November 2014.
At the meeting, more than 140 expressed support for the lodge and more than $10,000 was donated by locals to assist in its operation.
The trust recently raised a loan of $50,000 to continue to operate the lodge, while two grants had been received from the Meridian Energy Community Fund, to repair and renew flooring and purchase a mobility van.
Mr Cameron was hopeful the lodge would be able to stay open.
“I’m confident that, if we’re able to lift our resident numbers, we have a business structure and a culture that will ensure Whalan Lodge remains a real asset to the Upper Waitaki community.”