ROYAL Freemasons have sold their Sale and Moe aged care homes to the not-for-profit organisation Respect.

It is expected that ownership of the homes will be officially transferred to Respect next month.

Respect is a registered charity organisation with aged care homes, retirement villages, and home care services across Victoria, New South Wales and Tasmania.

The company has 10 other aged care homes in regional Victoria.

Royal Freemasons announced in October 2022 that they would sell nearly all of their aged care homes.

“In late 2022, Royal Freemasons undertook a strategic review of its organisation and made the decision to rescale its operations. The sale of its Moe and Sale aged care communities is a result of that decision,” Royal Freemasons Board Chair, Craig Head said.

While the above suggests a strategic move, when the October 2022 announcement was made, it appeared the decision to sell the homes was in response to a new funding model for residential aged care that had come into effect, which Royal Freemasons said it could not operate within.

“In October (2022), Royal Freemasons announced the sale of some of our aged care and retirement living communities, further announcing in February (2023) that, pending approval from the Foreign Investment Review Board, ownership of two retirement living communities will transfer to Aveo around mid 2023,” then chief executive John Fogarty told the Gippsland Times last May.

Mr Head told the Gippsland Times on Tuesday that residents at Sale and Moe will remain in their homes and experience very little change during the transfer of ownership from Royal Freemasons to Respect.

“They will continue to receive the care and services they require during this time of transition,” Mr Head said.

“Sale and Moe will only take in new residents if they can continue to meet the required care minutes.

“While sourcing aged care staff in regional areas continues to be a challenge, we have sufficient resources at our Sale and Moe communities to meet the required care minutes. All our homes are fully accredited and compliant with the Aged Care Quality Standards.”

Mr Head was optimistic about the sale.

“While we are sad to be saying goodbye to our Moe and Sale communities, we are confident that under Respect’s ownership and management, residents will continue to receive expert care and our staff will continue to work in a supportive environment,” he said.

Both the Sale and Moe homes have faced a range of criticism in relation to staffing numbers and standards in recent years.

In April 2022, Royal Freemasons Sale received sanctions for three months after an assessment found the home was not meeting the Aged Care Quality Standards relating to staffing, care planning and consultation, and the management and documentation of complex clinical care.

In response to the sanction, the home appointed a nurse adviser to help them meet the standards, as well as an education and clinical support manager to conduct care consultations with residents and their families. The sanction expired in July 2022.

In January 2023, Sale was assessed by the Aged Care Quality & Safety Commission and was found to be fully compliant.

Royal Freemasons Sale and Moe (pictured) aged care homes are expected to transfer ownership next month.
Photo: Contributed

The facility in Moe faced a scathing report from aged care regulators in early 2023 after 70-year-old Dennis Miller was found lying dead outside the facility in May 2022. ABC News reported that following a complaint from Mr Miller’s family, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner opened an inquiry. The investigation’s findings discovered several shortcomings on the part of the aged care facility.

The home was later re-accredited by the aged care regulator after being audited and was given accreditation until February 16, 2025.

The Weekly Source reported that Respect Aged Care is known for its ability to turn around failing aged care operations, from one losing $800,000 a month to others under serious sanction facing closure.

Respect Managing Director and Chief Executive, Jason Binder said the transfer of management would secure the long-term futures of each home and ensure their service and support for local families across Sale, Moe and the surrounding regions, continues.

“Respect looks forward to welcoming residents, families, and staff into a national organisation that has a strong reputation for compassion and a significant track record in delivering quality service and support to older people,” Mr Binder said.

“All residents will be staying at the home, as Respect will ensure security of tenure and continuity of care is maintained. Residents will also have the familiarity of existing carers, with current staff transferring employment to Respect.”

The regional non-profit aged care service was founded over 60 years ago and currently runs 22 sites in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales.

Also this week, Board and Trustees of Royal Freemasons announced the appointment of Hugh Cattermole, who will take over from Mr Fogarty as chief executive. Mr Fogarty stepped down from the role last month. Mr Cattermole will commence his new role on Monday, January 22.