AT a packed City of Canning special council meeting last week councillors voted in favour to restructure the City’s aged-care services following changes to government funding models.
All bar one councillor voted in support of the City’s recommendations that will see key community aged-care services run by the City transferred to not-for-profit organisations Silver Chain Group Limited and Access Care Network Australia Pty Ltd.
Subject to Federal and State Government approval, within 12 months Silver Chain will take over delivery of Home and Community Care (HACC) one-on-one services and day centre activities at Everglades, Pendana and Queens Park; respite care (Commonwealth Home Support Program); the home care packages program and the community visitors scheme.
Access Care Network, a subsidiary of Silver Chain, will take control of the regional assessment services (RAS) currently operated by the City. The RAS is responsible for conducting initial HACC assessments and referring clients to suitable service providers.
A City officer report stated the decision to review the services was mainly driven by impending funding changes to be implemented by the State and Federal Governments.
In February 2017, the Federal Government ceased block funding the City directly for recipients of services included in the home care packages program.
And, the report said the City had received confirmation the State Government HACC program would cease operating on 30 June 2018, and thereafter HACC funding would become the responsibility of the Commonwealth government.
“This new consumer-directed care model, when fully implemented, will mean the City will no longer be ‘block funded’ for the majority of services, but rather clients can choose which provider to purchase services from, and the funding will be provided in accordance with that decision,” the report stated.
The report said Silver Chain proposed to continue employing the majority of the City’s staff working in the service areas proposed for transfer and would take on the volunteers who assisted with the delivery of those services.
Councillor Christine Cunningham voted against the recommendations and her call on the night to fellow councillors to keep the services under City control met with applause from the crowd.
“Please let’s retain what we have,” she said.
She said clients’ satisfactions with the City’s aged care services and the staff who delivered them was more than 90 percent according to a recent survey.
“The City of Canning has great services, excellent services. I do not believe they should be outsourced even to a not-for-profit organisation,” she said.
Councillor Ben Kunze, who spoke in support of the recommendation, said he was conscious of the enormity of the decision.
“I don’t think we will consider a more important issue in our time in council,” Cr Kunze said.
“The issue that has resonated greatly with me is the client risk that there is in going forward. Silver Chain has an outstanding clinical governance structure,” he said.
Silver Chain’s executive general manager, Social Care Melanie Kiely spoke at the meeting advocating for the transfer of City aged care services to Silver Chain.
She said Silver Chain’s unique difference was its ability to provide a range of health care services including palliative care, acute nursing care and post nursing care.
“It is about combining what we do best with what you do best and not losing the magic that is there,” she said.
She said Silver Chain would be committed to keeping the day centres open.
“It is important for us to maintain continuity for clients and carers.
“As the needs of individuals become more complex Silver Chain can come in and provide clinical care as well.
“We have the scale and funds to invest in the City of Canning,” she said.
According to a City officer, Silver Chain would seek to retain 75 per cent to 85 per cent of staff currently employed by the City in the services mooted for transfer to the not-for-profit organisation.
The City will continue to operate Canning Lodge, as government-funding changes did not affect retirement villages, community housing or residential aged care.
Council voted to permit the City’s chief executive officer to develop a new name and marketing strategy for Canning Lodge and to work with funding providers develop options for the delivery of the City’s catering and Meals on Wheels services.