Feb 22, 2024

Major Victorian council votes to exit from the home care sector

city of port phillip
One of Melbourne’s most prominent councils has decided to cut its home care services, instead choosing to reinvest funds into community services. [Source: Wikimedia Commons]

A major Victorian council situated in the heart of Melbourne voted on Wednesday night to start exiting from the home care sector, citing the Government’s aged care reforms and new funding model as contributing factors.

Key points

  • The City of Port Phillip, which includes the suburbs of St Kilda, South Melbourne and Port Melbourne, will no longer offer in-home services for roughly 650 older home care clients
  • This includes domestic assistance, personal care, respite care, shopping assistance, property maintenance and home modifications
  • In a statement provided to HelloCare, they said no services would be disrupted as staff would continue to visit and support home care clients until a new provider of their choice can take over
  • A new model of care called the Village Model will be introduced with several community services included, supported by $65,000 per year in funding that was previously dedicated to home care services

There has been a steady procession of Victorian councils exiting the aged care sector following the Government’s announcement of a new home care system, Support at Home.

Under Support at Home, home care consumers will directly receive their Government funding for aged services and spend that money with a service provider. The current system provides greater financial security as Government funding is based on how many people require aged care support and it is paid directly to councils.

According to The Age, the City of Port Phillip would have to spend an estimated $1.42 million annually to develop a new service delivery model in line with Support at Home, initially increasing the cost of the program three-fold.

“We have not made this decision lightly as we understand change can be challenging for everyone and many clients have provided wonderful feedback about their Council staff. It is not something we sought to do,” Port Phillip Council Acting Mayor Louise Crawford told HelloCare. 

“The Australian Government aged care reforms, however, require significant extra resources and make it incredibly hard for us to compete with other providers. We have already lost staff and clients and the new federal funding model will put us on the back foot by not providing block funding in advance.”

Speaking to The Age before the Council’s decision, 67-year-old home care client Martin Kingham said he was afraid to see what would happen if his support services were removed. 

“It’s just made an incredible difference to my quality of life,” Mr Kingham said.

“We’ve been paying our taxes and our rates our whole working lives, and to have this basic service that’s cost-effective being ripped away from us feels frightening. Nearly 700 people using the service [in Port Phillip] will be thrown to the private system which is under-resourced.”

Port Phillip does not plan to wholly abandon its support for older home care consumers. Staff will be on hand to support residents as they transition to new home care service providers, guided by a new Community Connector service offering advice on navigating the aged care system. 

Ms Crawford added that funding for home care services will also go to their community services programs. 

“Under our new Village Model, we will continue to deliver meals and social support programs, provide a free hop-on hop-off community bus to help people get around and stay socially connected and run activities including our annual Seniors Festival and valued Linking Neighbours program,” she said.

“This is not a cost-cutting measure – our Community Service funding will receive an extra $65,000 each year.”

Port Phillip’s exit from the aged care sector means less than one-third of Victoria’s 79 councils still provide home care services. However, the metropolitan council is better placed to support residents with transitioning to other service providers. Regional council Moyne Shire recently voted to keep its home care services as it’s best placed to support its diverse community.

“Consultation was critical just to understand what the community wants, particularly for us as a Shire with a large geographic spread and pockets of smaller communities relying on the services we deliver,” Miryam Franjic, Manager Community Services, told hello leaders

“It was interesting to hear the different challenges clients face as well. Although there were common themes, there were notable differences regarding the services and support they needed and wanted.”

Port Phillip Council will today inform the Federal Government of their decision, with the Government to provide a list of not-for-profit providers for residents to choose from as their future service provider.

Ms Crawford said she expects a three to four-month transition period to occur with every resident to have a new provider by the end of August.

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