Central Goldfields Shire Council has announced it will transition away from delivering in-home aged care services from 1 March, 2024.
Council says the decision is in response to the planned introduction of the Commonwealth Government new model of care, Support at Home (SAH) program, on 1 July 2025.
Council currently delivers aged care services to approximately 630 clients that receive the Commonwealth Home Support Program which includes services such as domestic assistance, personal care, home maintenance and social support.
The new SAH program will be an integrated program that combines the Commonwealth Home Support Program and a range of other aged care programs.
Mayor, Grace La Vella said it was without doubt the biggest decision Council had faced during its term to date.
“This certainly hasn’t been a decision that has been taken lightly – and not one that has been made solely for financial reasons – a detailed review was carried out by an independent agency which included extensive staff and community consultation,” she said.
“The review identified that it would be difficult for Council to comply with the requirements of the new and expanded SAH program.
“To continue, Council would be required to extend its suite of services to offer allied health, nursing and more complex personal care. This extension would require new technology, higher standards and clinical governance further adding to costs and complexity.
“The intention of the SAH program is to open up the market for aged care providers – meaning it will be more competitive and clients will have a choice about who they access for their care program.”
Mayor La Vella said the Commonwealth Government’s payment structure would also change, making it more challenging for Council to budget to deliver the service.
“Unfortunately, the changes the Commonwealth Government have implemented have made it unsustainable for Council to continue to deliver these services into the future. The shift to a competitive model means that it’s not financially viable for Council to continue,” she said.
“We recognise that the reformed services would be better delivered by alternative providers who could offer a greater range of services to our clients.
“Council will now work with the Commonwealth Government to find a new provider to deliver aged care services locally and once in place will support the transition of all clients to help make the process as smooth as possible.
“We thank our staff and clients for their patience whilst we have worked through the review to determine how we are best to support our residents both now and into the future.
“We acknowledge the situation has been difficult for our staff – we thank them for their understanding and their wonderful ongoing service and care for our older residents.”
For now, all current services will remain business as usual, the Mayor said.
“Clients will continue to receive the services they have been assessed for. Once we know more about any new providers, we will share information with clients.”
“There are already a number of providers operating in our region including Maryborough District Hospital Service (MDHS) who became a provider in Pyrenees Shire after they exited aged care services earlier this year.”
MDHS Chief Executive Officer, Nickola Allan said the hospital service “would be interested in exploring what their role could be in the planning of the future delivery of CHSP services in Central Goldfields Shire”.