The Australian Government announced significant reforms to home care in the 2015-16 Budget. The reforms will improve the way that home care services are delivered to older Australians and will be implemented in two stages.
In the first stage, from 27 February 2017, funding for a home care package will follow the consumer. This will allow a consumer to choose a provider that is suited to them and to direct the funding to that provider. The consumer will also be able to change their provider if they wish, including if they move to another area to live. There will be a consistent national approach to prioritizing access to home care through the My Aged Care gateway.
The second stage will build on these changes by integrating the Home Care Packages Programme and the Commonwealth Home Support Programme into a single care at home program. This will further simplify the way that services are delivered and funded. The intention is to introduce the new integrated program from July 2018.
This will see the loss of bulk funding for agencies and all services will be delivered in a home care package model allowing the consumer to seek out their preferred provider.
Concerns for local government as a result of these changes include:
• Loss of bulk funding has obvious budget implications for councils
• Ability to be able to remain competitive and deliver services
• Lack of recognition from the funding bodies of the high level in-kind contribution local government provides- particularly in social programs and transport – High use of volunteers that encourage citizenship
• Have the capacity to work in a business model which may operate in negative
• High volume of clients who currently receive a single low level service and may fall through the gap
• Staffing without block funding to support wages
The Community Managers Network is working with the LGA to develop a policy and advocacy strategy that will enable us to lobby the Commonwealth Government to ensure the unique services that are provided to our residents by Councils in South Australia can continue beyond 2018.