Local retirement villages are feeling the effects of the nationwide nursing shortage, which they feel is exacerbated by the widening gap in nursing pay rates.
The population aged 75-plus is set to triple in the next 50 years and aged care providers are short more than 1000 nurses.
CHT Healthcare Trust (who oversee CHT Acacia Park Home and Hospital in Omokoroa) chief executive Carriann Hall says they currently have nurse and healthcare assistant vacancies.
''Nurses leaving aged care tell us they are leaving for DHBs or overseas.
''Aged residential care needs to be funded to be able to pay registered nurses the same as DHB registered nurses and level the playing field.
''If the country has the number of nurses needed and has the funding to enable us to compete on pay, then aged residential care can focus on providing the environments that support our nurses to thrive.''
Summerset by the Sea in Katikati are experiencing nurse shortages and fear the situation with ''become dire if not addressed with urgency''.
Summerset Group Holdings head of communications Logan Mudge says the nursing staff shortage problem is exacerbated by higher DHB pay rates attracting staff which is set to worsen.
They have a recruitment drive under way but would welcome greater Government intervention and support '' in the areas of pay equity, cost of living, and accessibility and availability of affordable housing''.
A person from Katikati's Radius Lexham Park, who did not want to be identified, says the nurses are understaffed ''and are doing a valiant job trying to keep the doors open. It is at the point if one nurse gets sick or leaves, then that will be it.''
They fear the facility will close.
But Radius Care CEO Andrew Peskett says there are no plans to close Radius Lexham Park and it is not something they have considered.
''Radius Lexham Park is operating well, thanks to the dedication of the hardworking staff and the support it receives from Radius Care support office. It only has two nursing vacancies currently, which we are managing through cover provided by relief staff.''
But there are facilities in worse situations, he says.
He says the reduced level of funding for nurses from the Government compared to DHB nursing funding leads to nurses leaving aged care for roles at DHBs.
Andrew says where possible, they offer opportunities for staff willing to move from cities to the regions by providing relocation support. But one barrier in smaller towns is the availability of suitable housing.
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation is ''profoundly disappointed'' with the Budget announced last week where nurses ''barely get a mention''.
Chief executive Paul Goulter says there is nothing mentioned about nursing wages or conditions, ''or about how the Government intends to address the widening pay gap between nurses who work for DHBs and those in other sectors and that is just going to perpetuate health inequities and staffing problems for non-DHB providers".
New Zealand Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace says the Government and its Budget has again failed New Zealand's aged residential care sector, ignoring pay parity for aged care nurses in a move that paves the way for the collapse of the sector.
''It's going to dramatically accelerate loss of aged care nurses to work for DHBs, which following their pay settlement will pay them anywhere from $20,000 to $30,000 a year more. Our providers aren't funded to match that.''