ROYAL Freemasons is seeking to alleviate "significant" financial strain by restructuring rosters, prompting concerns from families of residents in two aged care homes in Bendigo.
The organisation, which operates homes in Flora Hill and Kangaroo Flat, says it is redistributing hours and roles.
Rostered hours are expected to decrease for some positions in some homes and increase in others.
The changes affect all parts of the organisation.
Royal Freemasons says rosters at its two Bendigo homes have been adjusted by 6.5 per cent "to ensure sustainability now and into the future".
Roster changes for both homes are expected to come into effect in the second week of August, with the organisation reporting ongoing consultations with staff.
"We can't continue to actually lose money," chief executive Kerri Rivett says.
She is calling on the federal government to "fund aged care appropriately to enable us to deliver care and services that reflect what our residents and their loved ones want."
The federal government would need to provide at least $15 more per resident per day, according to Ms Rivett.
Community members connected to the Royal Freemasons facilities in Flora Hill and Kangaroo Flat have reached out with concerns about the changes.
The Health Workers Union is also critical.
"What a time to be cutting costs in aged care facilities," Diana Asmar, the union's secretary, says.
"We are in the middle of a pandemic that could spread to major regional communities, like Bendigo, and Royal Freemasons are cutting the hours of cleaners and carers.
"They should be doing the exact opposite."
She says the union's immediate priority is to ensure affected members receive their legal entitlements, "whether that be by way of partial redundancies or otherwise."
Ms Rivett sought to reassure people Royal Freemasons was putting resources into any COVID-19 outbreaks.
She said most of the funding announced for the aged care sector during the pandemic had been around personal protective equipment.
The Victorian and Commonwealth governments jointly announced supports for aged care workers and residents on Sunday, in response to COVID-19.
But Ms Rivett had yet to receive detailed information about the announced measures by Monday afternoon.
Sunday's announcements include workforce funding support and a program to reduce workforce sharing across sites.
A woman with a relative in one of the Bendigo homes, who wishes to remain anonymous, is concerned by the timing of the changes.
She is worried about how the new rostering arrangements will affect her loved one's care.
With COVID-19 restrictions in place, the woman is concerned residents' families will have limited opportunities to identify and raise any issues.
"The [home's] management and the staff are absolutely amazing, they've got us through really well, but we're frightened of what's going to happen because there's so much uncertainty - there's so much unrest," the woman says.
"Staff are losing their jobs - they're losing their hours. We just don't know what's going to happen."
The woman is questioning why Royal Freemasons has to make changes in the midst of a pandemic, especially given local staff's efforts to make families feel like their loved ones are safe.
"Out of sight isn't out of mind for us as a family - it's the opposite," the woman says.
The federal minister for aged care's office has been contacted for comment.