Carter Court | Home with a history

Carter Court has a history reaching back to nineteenth century England, but its eyes are firmly on the future and the Wairarapa community it serves.

The not-for-profit rest home owes its existence to Charles Rooking Carter – an enterprising Englishman who developed a strong interest in New Zealand. He emigrated in 1850 and became a prominent settler in the Wairarapa and the founding father of Carterton.

Upon his death in 1896, Mr Carter bequeathed a sum of money to provide for a facility to care for the aged in perpetuity. That’s still the focus today; ensuring Carter Court’s sustainability through strong governance and financial management.

In its earliest incarnation, it was a men’s-only rest home on Mr Carter’s property in rural east Carterton.

In the late 1950s a block of land was purchased in Carterton, the home moved to town and opened its doors to women. The Carter Trust Act of 1961 set up the Carter Society to oversee the running of Carter Court.

Since then the home has grown to meet the needs of the community it serves. Society chairperson Elaine Brazendale joined the committee in the late 1990s, when Carter Court comprised 23 ‘rest home’ bedrooms and six rental units.

It now has 42 bedrooms, 17 of which are ‘dual-purpose’ (equipped to provide rest home or hospital-level care), six licence-to-occupy units, and 44 low-cost pensioner units.

Manager Rae Andrews says it plans to develop an additional six dual-purpose bedrooms, with construction work hopefully starting this year.

A change in healthcare in recent years means the elderly are encouraged and supported to be cared for in their communities, she says.

“By the time a person needs residential care, they may be compromised with their health, mobility and independence. Coming into care is a significant change. It is hugely beneficial to be able to offer both rest home and hospital-level care; residents can stay at Carter Court if their care needs increase.  To have to shift to another facility can be an anxious time for a resident and their families. This is their home.”

Elaine says while Carter Court’s income covers its day-to-day running; funding capital projects and replacements is a significant challenge.

“Even something like replacing a commercial washing machine is a big deal. You can hardly spend less than $5000 on something.”

She credits the rest home’s survival and success to strong governance and financial management.

Moore Stephens Markhams Wairarapa has been a long-term and supportive partner since the early days of Carter Court. Director Sharon Parker is now an invaluable member on the Society’s executive and finance and audit committees.

“Sharon provides us with a much greater understanding of sound financial management, and she is right up to speed with regulations around the Society.  We’re getting really good advice to help us make the right decisions.”

Rae says Sharon brings crucial financial perspective and nous to strategy setting. “She has been with us for a long time and really knows us, our growth and where we have come from.”

Carter Court has also been “incredibly well-supported” by the Carterton community in particular, but also the wider Wairarapa area.

Financial support from local and national organisations means the estimated $344,000 needed for the six new dual-purpose rooms has almost been raised, she says.

Thirty-eight of the 44 pensioner units were gifted to the Society by the Carterton District Council in 2015.  Recent upgrades to the pensioner flats, including new roofing and insulation for 20 of them and the installation of air conditioning units, were completed with the support of grant funding.

“We are a community facility, owned by the community and governed by the community and they are fully engaged with us. Our 50 staff are committed to our residents and the aims of the Society. Without them we wouldn’t have the culture we have; it is just like home.”