At their most recent Council Meetings, Yarriambiack Shire Council moved to transition out of the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and Hindmarsh Shire provisionally moved (subject to consultation with staff) to exit out of the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP) and the State Government funded Home and Community Care Program for Younger People (HACCPYP) program from 30 June 2023.
The home-based aged-care service, funded by the Commonwealth Government supports almost one million senior Australians to stay longer in their homes and communities. The existing CHSP will change to a new ‘Support at Home Program’ providing an across-the-board model of support needed for residents aged 65+ to live independently in their own homes from 01 July 2024.
Yarriambiack Shire Council Mayor, Kylie Zanker said “This is one of the most difficult decisions we have had to make, and with the significant changes being introduced into the aged care industry it has made it almost impossible for Council to continue to deliver the services”.
The reforms are seeking to find an Australia-wide, more efficient, and effective model of service to meet the growing demand for aged care services, including introducing a standardised national and competitive approach to service delivery. This will evolve into a model where the consumer controls their own care with the aim of providing greater choice to clients between providers. These changes will see eligible residents receive Commonwealth-funded support packages that will enable them to purchase services directly from providers.
“To be a provider within the new program Councils will have to operate under a similar governance framework to specialist aged care service agencies that deliver clinical services, such as our health services. As the in-home aged-care service market in our small shires are comparatively small, commercialisation of these services will be unsuitable and unsustainable; in which case full cost-reflective pricing would be required to achieve competitive neutrality”, Hindmarsh Shire.
Council Mayor Cr Brett Ireland said. Cr Ireland continued “As the number of clients on HACC-PYP is very low, it is not feasible for Council to continue to deliver this service.”
“Council is not a health service provider and does not have the skills to manage and monitor clinical governance. We do not have the in-house expertise to meet the new Support at Home Program requirements. Council would need to recruit this expertise, which would be problematic in the already stretched labour market”, Cr Zanker said.
“The change in the funding arrangements has already commenced, increasing the workload on current staff who are already under-resourced in numbers. It has been identified that organisations that already deliver NDIS services will be far better placed and at an advantage to meet the requirements of the new program. It is considered that the business model will be an easier fit and align with organisations already administering NDIS and Aged Care Package programs”, Cr Ireland said.
The existing CHSP contracts, which also includes meals on wheels, home modifications and seniors group activities with the Commonwealth expires on 30 June 2023. Notification has been received that a one-year extension is being offered to the end of June 2024, prior to the transition to the Support at Home Program aimed at being implemented by July 2024. Yarriambiack Shire Council has consulted with staff, and has resolved to exit CHSP from 30 June 2023, with Hindmarsh taking a similar approach and consulting with staff prior to a final decision being made this month. The exit as at 30 June 2023 enables both Council’s to support a transition period and assist new providers to enter the region.
Across Yarriambiack Shire 524 clients are serviced by 14 staff members and 18 Hindmarsh Shire community care workers service 227 clients in areas such as domestic assistance, transport, personal care and meals.
Staff at both Hindmarsh and Yarriambiack Shire Councils have been informed of the decision and are working with management on their career pathways.
Council Officers at both Shires have been working in partnership and assessing the market, along with meeting with alternative providers to ascertain if service delivery will be maintained, and in some cases improved across the region.
“Both Councils want to assure their communities that they will not be left without a Home Support and Meals on Wheels Service. A transition period will be implemented, and Council will not exit the program until a new provider is appointed and in place. All stakeholders are currently in discussions about how this would look across the region and we are advocating strongly to suitable candidates. We will ensure clients, as our number one priority, are kept up to date with any confirmed developments”, Cr Zanker added.
This article appeared in the Nhill Free Press & Kaniva Times, 15 March 2023.