12 April, 2024

Council to continue aged services

WARRNAMBOOL City Council has committed to continue services that help people live independently at home and in the community.

A decision on whether council should remain active in the aged and disability services sector was brought before council as a result of the federal government’s reforms to the Commonwealth Home Support Program, which will transition to the Support at Home program in 2027.

Warrnambool City Council is the largest provider of in-home aged care and community care services in Warrnambool.

This is done through the federal government-funded Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP), the state government-funded Home and Community Care Program for Younger People (HACC-PYP), brokered services and services funded through the Department of Veteran Affairs.

Between 1200 and 1400 residents depend on these services provided by council.

At its meeting last Monday night council voted to remain involved in, and to expand and diversify, the range of aged and disability services.

“I think it’s an amazing outcome that we’re actually going to continue to deliver and expand services,” mayor Cr Ben Blain said.

“I think that’s a feather in the cap for Warrnambool City Council.

“We’re already a trusted provider and we’re hoping to continue to grow that.

“We do have an ageing population and it’s critical that we continue the service. This also gives surety to our staff that we are committed to staying and we are committed to growing.”

Cr Blain said Warrnambool City Council was going against the trend of other LGAs who are exiting services.

“We’re really giving it a stamp of confidence and we really do think that local government can do a great job of delivering these services to the community,” Cr Blain said.

To help inform the decision, council appointed Lake Advisory to undertake an independent review of its aged and disability services.

The report found council’s involvement in home support services, for which it receives Commonwealth funding, was sustainable.

The report indicated that in 2022-23 council delivered 62,052 hours of aged and disability services, while a market analysis found that there were no local providers who currently had the capacity to deliver the volume of services provided by council.

Council also consulted with the community about the future of home support services.

A survey drew 448 responses from clients and community members while more than 150 clients, community members, volunteers and staff took part in focus group discussions.

The key findings from the consultation were:

Overwhelming satisfaction with council’s current services;

Significant apprehension from staff, clients, carers and the community about the impact of the Commonwealth reforms on local service delivery, with fears of reduced support or changes in service providers.

Clients also expressed a strong desire for more information and transparency from the council regarding future changes, emphasising the importance of local knowledge and support in service delivery.

Council will now work on implementing the review recommendations to improve service delivery systems and quality assurance to transition the Commonwealth Home Support Program into Support At Home Program from July 1, 2027.

The services council provides will be continually reviewed to ensure they operate in a financially sustainable manner.


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