Aged & Disability Services Update - May 2022

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Mildura Rural City Council will transition out of delivering Aged and Disability home support services, with the intention for this process to be completed by June 2023.

Councillors formalised the decision at the May 2022 Ordinary Council Meeting, following a three-month consultation period with staff, clients and the wider community, and significant age care industry reforms.

There will be NO IMMEDIATE CHANGE to service delivery between now and mid-2023 when the new Support at Home program is expected to begin, with Council committed to seeing out its existing contracts until a transition plan has been developed and implemented.

Council will work closely with the State and Commonwealth Governments to ensure a smooth transition for clients. More information regarding this process will be communicated as soon as possible.

Preliminary information from the Commonwealth indicates agencies will register as providers of Support at Home in a similar way agencies can register as a National Disability Insurance Scheme provider. 

You can find out more at yoursay.mildura.vic.gov.au/ADS-update

Why is Council exiting aged care service delivery?

The Commonwealth Government holds responsibility for both Disability and Aged Care. Local Government, like other providers, has delivered Aged and Disability Services through service contracts with the Commonwealth.

Through a series of recent reforms, the Commonwealth is creating a more consistent national system that provides ‘integrated care’ from entry-level home support through to residential aged care.

The new program, ‘Support at Home’, will replace the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP), Home Care Packages (HCP) Program and Short Term Restorative Care (STRC) Programme, from July 2023.

A Support at Home Overview Paper is available at yoursay.mildura.vic.gov.au/ADS-update, which provides an overview of the proposed design for the new Program. Preliminary information indicates agencies will register as providers of ‘Support at Home’ in a similar way agencies can register as National Disability Insurance Scheme providers.

Customers can then choose to receive services from the agency of their choice. Council has decided that it cannot provide services under the Support at Home model, for similar reasons it was determined Council could not provide services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

This is a shift being seen across many other local government areas in Victoria where Councils are considering the balance between providing high quality care and value for money for ratepayers and clients. This certainly isn’t a decision that has been taken lightly, but rather in the best interests of both our ratepayers and the valuable Aged and Disability clients we have proudly served over the years.

When will Council cease offering Aged Care Services?

Our current contracts with the Commonwealth expire in mid-2023. Once we know more from the Commonwealth, we will develop a Transition Plan and communicate this with staff and clients.

Will there be any changes to services between now and when Council plans to exit service delivery?

No. Council is committed to seeing out the remainder of its contract to deliver the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP) until our contract expires in mid-2023. There will be no immediate change to services. Any changes will be communicated well in advance to ensure a transition to other service providers is as seamless as possible.

For those receiving services through other funded programs such as the Home and Community Care Program for Younger People (HACC-PYP) or Veterans Home Care (VHC), the transition may occur sooner depending on negotiations with the State Government.

Why is this decision in the best interests of the community?

The current Commonwealth programs have a history of long wait times, variable service availability across locations and overall lack of efficiency, as a model to provide the services that our older community members need to stay living at home for as long as possible.

The system with multiple funded programs is complicated and confusing for families.

The new model being established by the Commonwealth is very much geared towards choice for clients, and to private specialised businesses offering Aged and Disability services rather than local government.

This will allow the private sector to grow – it will create jobs and opportunity, and ultimately provide our clients with more quality choice when it comes to their care. It also means Council can take on more of an advocacy role, working with our community to achieve the best outcomes in Aged and Disability service provision.

What are Council’s next steps?

Council will work closely with the State and Commonwealth Governments regarding the transition for staff and clients.

There will be no immediate change to services currently delivered by Council while the Transition Plan is developed. Details of this Plan will be communicated to our clients, staff and the community as soon as possible.

Continuity of care for our clients, and the wellbeing and support of our staff, remains Council’s priority. To this end, Council will create an Aged Care Service Navigator position to support customers and community through the first 12 months of the new Support at Home Program.

What can clients expect now that Council is exiting the service?

As more information is released by the Commonwealth Government, a detailed Transition Plan will be developed to support clients transition from Council services to new providers. While this Plan is being developed, Council will continue to provide aged care services to clients.

Experience shows that most clients are able to make the transition with little or no support or issues. Council will have specialised support available for clients to ensure they are supported to make a successful transition. More information regarding this process will be shared in the coming months.

What is Council’s future role for older people?

Council’s future role might include:

  • Health and wellbeing – championing strategies, plans and initiatives the promote older people have a healthy and active lifestyle
  • Advocacy – ensuring that services are delivered to meet the needs of an ageing community
  • Navigation, information and access support – making sure that vulnerable members of the community gain and maintain access to the service system

Are other Victorian Councils exiting aged care?

Less than 10 per cent of Victorian Councils have indicated they will look to operate within the new Support at Home Program. There is no evidence these Councils are able to operate at a breakeven cost. Individual Councils will be best placed to determine what is in their community’s best interests.

Will there be help available for clients to transition to the new Support at Home program?

There will be Care Finder networks established by the Commonwealth Government that will assist navigating the new program model. Council will work closely with these networks to help clients transition in any way we can.

Council will also provide transition and navigation support during the implementation phase of the new Support at Home program.

A Transition Plan will be developed and will continue to evolve as we get more information regarding the new program from the Commonwealth.