Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson react to pictures of them in 80s as aged sector calls for more funding

The Prime Minister and Finance Minister have been confronted with a glimpse into the future as the aged care sector piles on the pressure for Budget funding.

Nearly 1000 aged care beds have closed this year and the sector is blaming chronic underfunding, rising costs and harsh immigration settings - which Newshub can reveal have seen just five nurses arrive. 

A giant billboard right by Parliament shows Jacinda Ardern and Grant Robertson aged in their 80s, in all their wrinkly glory. It's one way to get attention.

"They don't need to create campaigns or PR events for us, of course, to know how important the sector is," said Ardern when asked what she thought of how she looked. 

"Distinguished," Robertson replied.

Jacinda Ardern, Grant Robertson react to pictures of them in 80s as aged sector calls for more funding
Photo credit: Supplied.

Aged Care Matters says by the time Ardern might need their care it will be more than 66,000 beds short.

"On the current trajectory, it's just not going to be available. Let's face it, we're white, we're rich, we're privileged," said Chris Gallavin, the director of the Home of Compassion aged care facility in Upper Hutt.

It has half the nurses it needs so half of its beds are closed.

"Aged care in Aotearoa NZ is on the precipice of a national disaster," said Gallavin.

There are three things, he said, in the Government's control to fix.

"The funding regime [is] not helpful… The log-jam that's created by an inflexible education system that is not quick enough to train caregivers and registered nurses, not helpful…  The immigration settings… not helpful."

Seniors Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said there is "a lot of funding underway" for the sector "including a 5 percent increase in funding this year". 

The immigration settings require nurses to work for two years in order to gain residency.

Newshub can reveal since July, the Government has signed off on employers to recruit 1097 aged care nurses from overseas, while 95 nurses have applied and 69 have been approved.

But only five have arrived in the country. 

"They want to come to New Zealand, they want to make it their home, let's make it happen for them," said Gallavin.

But Immigration Minister Michael Wood said: "We don't make immigration policy by saying 'why don't we just do that'."

"It's about listening to the sector," he said. "We make immigration policy by looking at the evidence."

But that sector was so desperate for attention, it photo-shopped the Prime Minister.