City to step away from aged care service delivery
After careful consideration, the City of Greater Bendigo will exit Home Support aged care service delivery and transition clients to a new provider by June 30, 2023.
Council made the decision at the November Council meeting, following a review of the service.
The review was prompted by the planned introduction of the Federal Government’s new Support at Home (SAH) program, which is part of its National Reform of Aged Care.
The City is currently responsible for the delivery of basic aged care services to approximately 1,800 clients that receive the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), which includes services such as domestic assistance, personal care, home maintenance and social support.
From July 1, 2024 the SAH program will be a new, integrated program that will combine the CHSP and a range of other aged care programs.
As a result, the City and many other councils have recently had to consider their future role in aged care service delivery.
Mayor Cr Andrea Metcalf said the thorough review process, which engaged the skills of an independent consultant, confirmed it would be difficult for the City to comply with the requirements of the SAH program more broadly.
“The City currently has a partial monopoly on the local aged care market, however the changes that will be introduced will make it difficult to continue,” Cr Metcalf said.
“The SAH program intends to open up the market for aged care providers, making it more competitive and giving clients greater choice about who they access care from. This will effectively split our client base. There will also be changes to the payment structure from Federal Government to Local Government, making it difficult to budget to deliver the service.
“If the City was to continue providing aged care, it would have to expand its service delivery significantly, which would require an investment in new technology and the appointment of a skilled committee to ensure compliance with requirements of the new service.
“Critically, due to the expansion of the service into a competitive market, the City would not be able to continue to use ratepayer funds to help cover the costs of running the service, as these funds are not available to the private sector and it would be unfair for councils to continue to use them.
“In making this decision now, the City will be able to work with the Federal Government to find a suitable provider and be supported to ensure a smooth transition for clients. While the City is a contracted provider, the Federal Government is obligated to find a new provider and support the transition to ensure client continuity of care.
“The review process confirmed there are a number of skilled and capable private/non-profit providers that are already delivering aged care services in Greater Bendigo and have plans to expand and grow into the SAH program.
“Local Government originally provided such services because there were no other providers. Over the past 30 years, the aged care sector has grown significantly and prompted a change in service delivery to meet the needs of an ageing population.
“This has been a challenging decision and one Council has explored for the past six months, it has not been rushed or taken lightly. We thank staff and clients for their patience and understanding, and recognise and thank staff for their wonderful service and care for our older residents.”
The City will engage with the community in the first half of 2023 to determine how it can continue to support older adults in other ways. However, Council’s decision is final.
By no longer providing the service, the City is expected to save approximately $450,000 per year.
As part of Council’s decision, some of these savings will be used by the City to create a new position called a Service Navigation Officer to ensure current clients successfully transition to the new provider and support anyone seeking aged care for the first time.
For now, the City will maintain all current services and it will be business as usual. Clients will continue to receive the services they have been assessed for. There will come a time to meet the new provider and a smooth transition of service will start. More information will be shared with clients as details become available.
Chief Executive Officer Craig Niemann thanked all staff for their commitment to delivering a high-quality service.
“This decision responds to significant changes in the aged care sector and is not a reflection on the level of care or service provided by the City. Our staff are kind, caring and passionate about their role and much-loved by their clients, and should be very proud of their work,” Mr Niemann said.
“Over the past decade the City has continuously adjusted its aged care service delivery in response to sector-wide changes driven by the Federal Government. There have been a number of changes and it has been acknowledged within the sector for a long time that it was unlikely Local Government would remain an aged care service provider ongoing.
“A comprehensive set of Frequently Asked Questions has been developed and placed on the City’s website to help explain this decision. The changes to the aged care sector are quite complex and we encourage the community to take the time to understand this decision.”
To read the FAQs, click here.
Aleisha Verwoert North – 0407 797 479