After nearly 100 years of operation in the Upper Hutt area, St Joseph’s Home of Compassion elder care
facility has announced its closure, which will be effective in four months from today.
Across New Zealand, aged care providers have been seriously impacted by the global nursing shortage,
with the New Zealand Nurses Organisation recently stating that the health sector in New Zealand was
more than 4000 nurses short.
St Joseph’s currently has 87 beds, 16 of which are dementia care, with the rest a mix of elderly
and hospital level care. To operate, the centre requires 15 registered nurses to ensure, and
provide, appropriate safe care to our residents.
From before the Covid outbreak, it has been increasingly challenging to recruit and retain nurses
and caregivers at the centre, and the last six months have been especially difficult.
‘Unfortunately, we can no longer staff our home to the levels necessary to provide the quality
and safety of care that we all expect, and that they deserve’ said
Dr Chris Gallavin, Tumu Whakarae – Co-Executive director, of the Sisters of Compassion group.
‘We know that we have been facing a nationwide problem for some time, so over the last 3 years, we
have been working as innovatively and creatively as possible to address the decline in staffing
resources, not only of registered nurses, but also of caregivers and support staff’, he added.
‘We have advertised nationally and internationally, working with agencies, exploring options for staff,
including delaying retirement, and even trying to convince others to come out of retirement. But now
we find ourselves unable to staff the centre adequately’, explained Dr Gallavin.
‘We are so sorry that it has come to this’, said Dr Gallavin. ‘This is not a problem we are able
to fix by spending more but is a reflection of where our health system is at’, he added.
‘It is a very sad day for our residents, their whānau and families, our staff and everyone in our
community who has been involved in our operations over many decades’, says Dr Gallavin.
‘I appreciate this will come as a great shock and that it is a blow to the community – again,
I am very sorry for that’, he said.
Throughout this time, St Joseph’s has been constantly assisted by Te Whatu Ora, previously known as
the DHB, who have helped by providing relief staff when possible. However, even with the ongoing help
of Te Whatu Ora, getting the necessary staff to continue operating has not been possible.
The Home will not close overnight but has committed to remain open for four months
to help with the transition of residents and staff.
Families will be assisted in re-housing their loved ones through the local Needs Assessment and
Service Coordination (NASC) organisation. ‘Residents and families will not be left alone; we are here
to work with them and Te Whatu Ora in their ongoing care and accommodation’, said Dr Gallavin.
This difficult and painful decision means closure to a story that began on 19 February 1933, when a
home was first built in Upper Hutt, to replace a care home run by the Sisters of Compassion in
Buckle Street, Wellington, which had been caring for the elderly and disabled since 1901.
Since that time, St Joseph’s Home of Compassion in Upper Hutt has been dedicated to providing care for the
elderly in need. Highly regarded for its level of care and for accepting many people for whom no other options
existed, the centre opened a state-of-the-art 16-bed dementia wing in 2009. The reconstructed elderly
care wing, the “Aubert wing”, opened in 2015.