Aged care shake-up forces councils to review services

Councils are having to rethink the future of their in-home care services as the sector heads for a major shake-up.

Councils are having to rethink the future of their home support services with the aged care sector set for a shake-up following the aged care royal commission.

As part of the changes, a new Support at Home Program will replace the current regime of federally funded home care services, some of which are delivered at a local government level.

The Support at Home Program will replace the Commonwealth Home Support Program as well as Home Care Packages and Short Term Restorative Care from 1 July 2024.

One of the councils affected by the changes is Corangamite shire council in Victoria’s Barwon south-west region, which currently delivers CHSP services on behalf of the Commonwealth to some 300 residents in Camperdown, Terang, Lismore, Derrinallum, Skipton and surrounds.

Services include domestic assistance, personal care, social support individual, property maintenance, home modifications and meals on wheels.

Community level care

Corangamite Shire’s positive ageing and inclusion coordinator Chloe McGowan says Corangamite Shire is a relatively small service provider but the support it offers help seniors, people with disabilities and those recovering from short-term acute care to live independently in the community.

She says the changes being implemented by the federal government will affect most of the services council offers.

Chole McGowan

“The Support at Home Program will be a whole new model with a different funding and payment arrangement in an open and competitive market with a greater diversity of services types than we currently offer,” she told Community Care Review.

“The Support at Home model prioritises client choice and control through individualised funding and replaces the existing partnership model that local government has been working with in Victoria.”

Preparing for change

To prepare for the changes, council has engaged consultants INCITE Information, which has worked with other local governments on service reviews, to undertake a formal review of its Positive Ageing and Inclusion programs.

“Our review will look broadly at all aspects of the service from capacity to viability,” Ms McGowan said. “As a small rural council we didn’t have the capacity to take on the review ourselves.”

No decision has been made on the future provision of services at this time, she says.

Consultation promised

The government says that no one will lose any in-home aged care services they currently have in place through the CHSP or Home Care Packages Program, and has committed to consult community stakeholders as it develops the new aged care system.

Ms McGowan said council looked forward to getting more information from the Commonwealth.

Overhauling the aged care system to take the pressure off the residential care sector and enable more older people to remain in the community was a key recommedation of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, which handed down its report in March 2021.

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