The closure of Remuera's well-established Caughey Preston rest home came as a shock to the community and its loss had caused great sadness, a local leader says.

Desley Simpson, an Auckland councillor and former Orakei Local Board chairwoman, said many people in her area were taken aback when it was announced around early August that the 108-bed facility would shut in October.

"Our community was really sad when we learned the trust had made the decision to close its doors. This outstanding facility has opened its doors for sometimes generations of people in our community, for the elderly," she said.

Caughey Preston's web site says: "As a non-profit organisation Caughey Preston's prime objective, since its opening in 1950, has been to deliver care that is second to none, in an environment where clients and their families have been our key focus. Sadly that time is now coming to an end and the trust will be exiting Residential Care service provision."


Simpson said few locals even knew the trust was in financial trouble.

"For many in our community, it was incredibly surprising because it's just been here for such a long time and no one really knew that it was in trouble. So to hear it was going was a great shock and many people have been worried what will happen to the site. Will it be turned into multi-apartments? It's a beautiful site. People loved the fact that it was surrounded by gorgeous trees as well as having wonderful care for the elderly," Simpson said.

Simpson mourned Caughey Preston's loss. Photo/Michael Craig
Simpson mourned Caughey Preston's loss. Photo/Michael Craig

The Remuera rest home struck financial difficulties, losing $1.1 million last year, up from more than $600,000 the previous year, according to the accounts.

Accounts filed with the Charities Services by the Marianne Caughey Smith-Preston Memorial Rest Homes Trust Board showed how the red ink was flowing. Although the trust received fees of $13m in the year to September 30, 2016, it paid suppliers and employees $16m.

Charities Services shows trustees are John William Stewart, Terence Roderick Cornelius, Rachel Kathleen Ann McQueen, Celia Caughey, Peter Richard Cameron, Andrew Stuart Caughey and Richard Caughey. Andrew Caughey is chairman of the trust.

Big retirement businesses have told the Herald how they had taken in Caughey Preston residents and employed staff.

A spokesman for New Zealand's biggest NZX listed retirement business, Ryman Healthcare, said 23 residents had now been transferred to Ryman hospitals.

"They're spread between St Heliers, Remuera, Howick, Birkenhead and Pukekohe," he said.


"Our Auckland regional operations manager dealt directly with the manager from Caughey Preston and we took as many residents as we could. They are all care residents because Caughey Preston was an aged care facility. They are all in hospital, restore or dementia care.

"We are very full in Auckland - our occupancy is running at close to 100 per cent and has been for some time - but we took as many residents as we could find places for.
We were fortunate in that we have a brand new care centre at Bert Sutcliffe village in Birkenhead, where we found places for six residents. We have also been interviewing former Caughey Preston staff and we have taken on a number at our Edmund Hillary village in Remuera and our Grace Joel village in St Heliers," he said.

Glen Sowry, Metlifecare chief executive, said Caughey Preston staff had been in touch.

"We have been approached by some staff who have been taken through usual recruitment processes. I believe we have also had some inquiry regarding residents but not sure whether they were admitted in the end. We do not have any full care facilities in close proximity to Caughey Preston so that may have seen residents going to other operators," Sowry said.

A spokeswoman for Summerset Group said 12 Caughey Preston residents had moved into the care centre at Summerset at Heritage Park, the new Harrison Rd village in Ellerslie.

"Jarrod Shearer, the Ellerslie village manager, contacted the Caughey Preston manager once he heard the news about the facility closing down to discuss support for residents and staff. The team at Caughey Preston then spoke with staff and residents about Summerset's new village. A few residents and their families came to see the Ellerslie village," the spokeswoman said.

"The Caughey Preston residents are paying the same level of care fee. A few of them are paying a bit more for the ensuite bedroom as they were not in an ensuite room at Caughey Preston."