Beds change hands across central Australia

There have been seismic shifts in industry ownership across central Australia.


There have been seismic shifts in industry ownership across central Australia this week with Frontier Services handing its aged care operations in the Northern Territory over to Blue Care, while ECH Group announced it was exiting residential care in South Australia and the NT.

Blue Care announced on Monday that the Uniting Church had decided to transfer to it the operation of Frontier Services’ aged care services in the Northern Territory.  Frontier’s aged care services in the Kimberley region of Western Australia would be transferred to Juniper, the Uniting Church’s provider in WA.

The transfer would take place from 1 July, 2014, subject to the approval of the Department of Social Services.

“We have valued our support role, working with Frontier Services aged care in the past few months,” Blue Care’s executive director Robyn Batten said in the announcement.

As Australian Ageing Agenda reported recently, Blue Care had assumed management of Frontier’s aged services in December 2013. Frontier had recently announced it was closing its Tracy Aged Care Facility in Darwin affecting 30 residents and 61 staff members.

Asked what impact the transfer of services would have on operations, Ms Batten said that every effort would be made to ensure there was minimal impact on the residents, clients and staff.

“Locations will continue to employ the same staff, provided employees are happy to transfer to Blue Care or Juniper. All services will be maintained aside from Tracy Aged Care, which Frontier Services will close,” Ms Batten told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The services that Blue Care will operate in the NT include:

  • Old Timers, Alice Springs
  • Flynn Lodge, Alice Springs
  • Hetti Perkins Home for the Aged, Alice Springs
  • Pulkpulkka Kari, Tennant Creek
  • Rocky Ridge, Katherine
  • Katherine Hostel
  • Terrace Gardens, Darwin
  • The Juninga Centre based in Darwin by agreement with Gwalia Dariniki Association.

In addition, Ms Batten said that Blue Care would provide support to all community-based aged care services administered by Frontier Services throughout the NT, in the same locations where residential care existed. Such services included community care in Katherine, Darwin, Tennant Creek, Mutitjulu and Alice Springs.

The Federal Government announced on Monday it was providing $5 million towards a transition plan to keep aged care services available in the NT.

Blue Care told AAA that funding would be used on vehicle replacement, information and communication technology infrastructure, developing staff training, care governance and the transferring of systems to Blue Care and Juniper.

Assistant Minister for Social Services Senator Mitch Fifield said the government had made the funding commitment in recognition of the unique challenges facing aged care providers and consumers in the NT.

Allity, McKenzie buy ECH beds

Elsewhere, in an unrelated development, ECH Group announced on Tuesday it was exiting residential care in South Australia and the NT.

ECH said it would dedicate itself exclusively to “community-focused services, including increasing the options available in affordable age-friendly homes”.

It had agreed to sell its 11 residential aged care centres in South Australia and the NT – 10 care centres and the Hillside Gardens retirement village of 24 units in South Australia would be sold to Allity, while the NT centre and community-based services would be sold to the McKenzie Aged Care Group.

All of the almost 1,200 residents of ECH’s residential care centres would maintain their occupancy arrangements and the 1,300 staff employed in the facilities would be offered continuing employment with Allity and McKenzie Aged Care.

Chief executive of ECH, Rob Hankins, said the sale would free up significant funds as ECH diversified its community services to people’s homes and expanded on its 97 retirement villages around South Australia.

ECH said it would continue to control $400 million worth of retirement and community services assets and would maintain a workforce of more than 700 people.

“The Allity and McKenzie Aged Care leaderships, their people, care philosophies and values strongly align with those of ECH. We know that our residents in the care centres, as well as our community clients in the NT and those of our staff who will move to Allity and McKenzie Aged Care will join exceptional organisations,” Mr Hankins said.

Tags: allity, blue-care, ech, frontier-services, mckenzie aged care, ownership, slider, uniting-church,

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