City of Greater Bendigo has announced it’s pulling the plug on home support services for older residents, saying it will no longer be able to operate under the new aged care system being ushered in by the federal government.
In a statement issued on Tuesday Bendigo said it would quit home support aged care services and move its 1,800 clients over to a new provider by June 30 next year.
A spokeswoman confirmed that the jobs of 66 carers and 10 administration staff employed by the City of Greater Bendigo would be affected.
The city currently delivers services including domestic assistance, personal care, home maintenance and social support.
The decision – which will save council around $450,000 a year – was made “after careful consideration” and a review of services prompted by the planned introduction of the federal government’s new Support at Home program.
New aged care system
The program is part of a national reform of aged care launched in response to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
From July 1, 2024 Support at Home will combine the Home Care Package system with Commonwealth Home Support (CHSP) services, some of which have been provided by councils like Bendigo.
As a result of the changes, many councils are rethinking their role in aged care delivery.
Corangamite Shire Council, in south-western Victoria, announced in September it was reviewing the future of its services.
Community Care Review has sought further information about the outcome of Corangamite’s review.
Bendigo Mayor Andrea Metcalf said a review by consultants confirmed that council would struggle to continue operating under the new system.
“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,” Ms Metcalf said.
“The Support at Home 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.”
Ms Metcalf also said if the city was to keep providing care it would have to use ratepayer money to invest in new technology and fund an expert compliance committee, which would be unfair.
Council to fund navigation officer
Ms Metcalf said the review indicated that a number of local aged care providers planned to expand in the Greater Bendigo region, and the federal government was obliged to find new providers for existing council clients.
“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,” she said.
Council will use the savings to fund a navigation officer to help clients transition to a new employer.
Executive officer Craig Niemann said the city had constantly adjusted its aged care services over the last 10 years in response to sector-wide changes.
“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,” he said.
The city will continue with existing services for now.
The story first appeared on Government News