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Govt cuts force closure of Newcastle Catholic nursing home

Government funding cuts and increasing requirements for accreditation have forced Maitland-Newcastle Diocese's Catholic Care of the Aged to close its 67-bed St Catherine of Siena Nursing Home.

In a statement released yesterday, Catholic Care of the Aged (CCA) said it was unwilling to compromise its commitment to quality of care by reducing staffing levels as a means of resolving the financial difficulties of the home in the wake of the Federal Government's 1997 reforms.

It said: "Accreditation, building certification, occupational health and safety and workers compensation have all led to hefty increases in expenditure for Nursing Homes. All Nursing Homes were dealt a severe blow in November 1997 when the Commonwealth Government reduced the funds available to meet building and development costs by around 50%."

The office said factors specific to St Catherine of Siena Nursing Home relate to the 1997 reforms, increases in workers compensation costs, and the cost of maintaining a heritage building. It added that the building would have required extensive expenditure to enable it to continue as a Nursing Home.

CCA Chief Executive Officer Ralph Watson said the Home has a debt rising at a rate of over $1,000 a day and fast approaching $2 million.

"We advised the Minister for Aged Care of the pending closure but the only assistance her office provided was advice on how to close the Nursing Home," he said. "Now that the decision has been made our primary concern is to ensure that our existing residents continue to be well cared for and to find alternative accommodation for them in other local Nursing Homes."

Maitland-Newcastle Diocese