Wesley Mission has announced the closure of all its Sydney aged care homes due to challenges in attracting and retaining staff.
Facilities at Sylvania, Carlingford and Narrabeen are expected to close at the end of May, causing upheaval for nearly 200 residents and their families.
CEO and superintendent Reverend Stu Cameron said the decision was necessary because of difficulties meeting new national staffing requirements.
“The aged care sector is experiencing challenges to workforce and flow-on impacts from the national reforms to aged care. Wesley Mission supports these once-in-a-generation reforms, improving quality for all care users,” Reverend Cameron said in a statement.
“It is, however, a challenging environment to be a smaller provider. With just three aged care locations, our offering in this area is small compared to the large and diverse range of community services we provide around NSW and across Australia.”
The federal government set a self-imposed target to have registered nurses in aged care homes around the clock by July 1.
Last month the aged care minister admitted about one in 20 facilities would not meet this target but nearly all facilities would have enrolled nurses on duty.
The sector is still thousands of staff short of what it needs but the government is trying to attract more people by raising the minimum pay standard by 15 per cent from July.
Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said she had recently met with Wesley Mission management, who did not foreshadow the closures.
She said there was support for operators who were struggling to meet the new requirement for nurses, which she said was recommended by a royal commission two years ago.
Ms Wells defended the implementation of the changes saying the government had increased funding to the sector.
Homes won’t shut until everyone relocated
Wesley Mission said it had appointed MyCarePath, which specialises in aged care placements, to support its residents in finding new accommodation.
It is understood the three Sydney facilities will not close until everyone has somewhere to go.
“We will also be supporting affected staff to find a new role, or with assistance to find a role at a different provider,” Reverend Cameron said.
The Department of Health and Aged Care said it also was not made aware of the decision by Wesley to close any of its aged care facilities.
It said under Commonwealth legislation, aged care providers have a responsibility to ensure residents are appropriately relocated and accommodated in suitable accommodation that meets their needs.
“Residents are not required to move until suitable accommodation has been found,” the department said.
Wesley Mission closed their Tebbutt facility in Dundas north-west Sydney last year as they could not deliver the major building works needed.
“Providing amenities that support our residents’ needs is an increasing challenge both internally and externally at this location,” Reverend Cameron said last June.
Last month VincentCare said they made the “difficult decision” to cease their involvement in Home Care Packages in Victoria due to “significant changes” to federal government aged-care funding.
Interim Group chief executive Paul Turton told ABC Radio Melbourne as a small-scale provider it would have been difficult for the organisation to meet new government requirements.