Central Goldfields Shire Council Takes the Leap
The Central Goldfields Shire Council has decided, after thorough deliberation, to cease its provision of in-home aged care services starting from March 1, 2024. This determination was reached during a Council meeting on August 22, following an extensive evaluation process that involved input from both staff and the community.
The decision is a direct response to the impending implementation of the Commonwealth Government’s new Support at Home (SAH) program, which forms part of the National Reform of Aged Care and is set to commence on July 1, 2025.
Presently, Central Goldfields Shire offers aged care services to around 630 clients under the Commonwealth Home Support Program, encompassing services like domestic assistance, personal care, home maintenance, and social support.
The forthcoming SAH program will amalgamate the Commonwealth Home Support Program with various other aged care programs, creating an integrated approach.
These changes have prompted all local councils in Victoria to reassess their roles in providing aged care services.
Central Goldfields Shire Mayor Cr Grace La Vella acknowledged that this decision represents the most significant challenge the Council has encountered during its term thus far.
“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.
“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.
“The Commonwealth Government’s payment structure will 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.
“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. 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.
Nickola Allan, the CEO of MDHS, provided:
“MDHS would be interested in exploring what their role could be in the planning of the future delivery of CHSP services in Central Goldfields Shire.
You can access a thorough set of Frequently Asked Questions on the Council’s website by visiting www.engage.cgoldshire.vic.gov.au/agedcarereview for further information.
What is the Support at Home (SAH) Program?
Support at Home, slated for implementation on July 1, 2025, is the fresh-aged care initiative poised to amalgamate and supersede existing programs such as:
- Home Care Package program,
- Commonwealth Home Support program (CHSP),
- Short Term Restorative Care program, and
- Residential respite programs.
The government has provided resources comparing the ongoing in-home aged care programs to the upcoming Support at Home program, which is readily available.
Why the change?
The Royal Commission’s concluding report on Aged Care Quality and Safety suggested various measures to enhance the well-being of elderly Australians. “Support at Home” represents one of the government’s initiatives in response to these recommendations.
What will change?
Some elderly Australians might lack awareness of the funding sources required to access services. However, with the implementation of Support at Home, it will become clearer which assistance options are accessible and how to access them conveniently.
This initiative aims to encompass:
- enhanced options, adaptability, and openness.
- improved service clarity, heightened safety, and elevated care quality.
- tailored support plans based on evaluated aged care requirements and personal situations.
- a unified assessment procedure and assessment team alongside an integrated evaluation tool, replacing the national screening and assessment form.
- enhanced alignment of services with an individual’s support necessities.
- streamlined access to products, devices, assistive technologies, and home adjustments.
How to get involved?
There are several opportunities for consultations involving older Australians benefiting from government-funded aged care, their families, caregivers, and pertinent stakeholders. If you wish to participate and provide input on the program’s structure, please register your interest here.
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As the SAH programme continues to roll out and evolve, it represents a promising step forward in the quest to provide quality aged care services for all Australians, regardless of their location. It reflects a commitment to promoting independence, choice, and wellbeing for our seniors, particularly in regional and remote areas where such services are vital.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only. The Australian Seniors Advisory Group has no working relationships with any government agency or municipal office.