More funding and more respect for the elder care industry are needed, according to a woman who has just had to close her rest home.
Glen Meade, who owned and operated Lancewood rest home and hospital in Bulls for 23 years, said low client numbers caused her and her husband to close the facility just before Christmas.
"The problem with us is we are a stand-alone facility," she said. Not having other income streams such as rental accommodation made Lancewood vulnerable to fluctuations in residents.
"So we need people in beds."
Lancewood has been a rest home since 1987 and Mrs Meade upgraded to include hospital-level care in 2009.
Funding was getting tighter and people were coming into rest homes later than when she first took over. The financial squeeze became too much this year.
"We had deaths but very few admissions over the last six months. We probably should've closed six months ago - but, knowing the system, we hung in knowing it could've changed next week."
There were 14 residents when Mrs Meade pulled the pin last month with residents moving out by December 18.
"There were a few sleepless nights but when I did, I felt good about making the call," she said. "It's sad for the families ... knowing that our dear residents had to go and start new. And sad for the staff too."
The closure leaves Bulls without a rest home and Edale in Marton the only one in Rangitikei district.
"That's the saddest part," Mrs Meade said. "All those Bulls people have to leave."
But she feels comfortable it was the right call. "We were kidding ourselves that it was going to change."
The residents have been rehomed mainly in Whanganui and Feilding. Mrs Meade said most of the 23 staff had found other work after she put a call out to nearby providers through Eldernet.
"They held positions open for Lancewood staff, and just about all of them have a job."
Mrs Meade was not sure what her next role would be but was retiring from elder care.
"We need money and we need respect for what we do in this industry," she said. "We had a really special place here ... it's very sad."