What’s happening to Council’s existing home care services?

Darebin Council provides a range of home care services funded by the Federal Government such as personal care, domestic assistance, delivered meals, and social support groups at Yanada House. These services will continue to be provided by Council.

The Federal Government funds home care services through the Commonwealth Home Support Program (CHSP). Current funding arrangements were due to finish in 2020. Darebin Council had lobbied the Federal Government to extend these funding arrangements instead.

On 2 April 2019 the Federal Government announced that the block funding of CHSP services would be extended until June 2022. This was very welcome news.

Darebin Council is also hopeful that the Federal Opposition will also commit to at least this period of extension, or longer.

It means that Darebin Council will be continuing to provide existing Commonwealth Home Support Program services for a further three years and possibly beyond.

Darebin Council had previously committed in September 2018 that if the Commonwealth extended block funding arrangements, Council would continue to provide those funded services.

What does the draft report say?

The report then outlines 98 recommendations for Council to consider involving:

·  creating an Age Friendly city

·  future options for Council’s aged care services.

The Panel had prepared their draft report on the basis that federal block funding for Commonwealth Home Support Program services would likely be discontinued in June 2020. However, on 2 April 2019, the Federal Government announced an extension of block funding arrangement to July 2022. This has very changed the situation. So, some of the recommendations about existing services in the report are no longer relevant at this time.

How was the draft report developed?

The draft report was developed by the Independent Panel, consisting of Rhonda Galbally AC and Peter Allen. It was informed by feedback from the Darebin community, industry research, case studies from other places, Council data and Council strategies.

The Panel published a discussion paper in October 2018. Over 1,130 people within the Darebin community participated in the consultation activities between 9 October and 6 December 2018.

For more information about what the community said as part of this consultation please see Age Friendly Darebin Review- Community Engagement & Consultation Report.

When will Council make a decision about the Panel’s recommendations?

Council will consider the Panel’s final report and recommendations at its meeting in July 2019.  Councillors may decide on some recommendations at that meeting. Other recommendations may require further investigation before Council makes a decision.

The Council meeting in July 2019 will not make a decision about the future of existing aged care services.

This is because the Council decided in September 2018 that if the Federal Government extended block funding of those services, then Council would continue to provide existing services.  

Darebin Council advocated strongly to the Federal Government for the continuation of block funding. So we are very pleased that on 2 April 2019, the Government extended this current arrangement until 2022. 

Council will continue providing its existing home support services whilst the Federal Government continues to provide block funding to these services.

The Federal Government’s recent announcement means Council will continue providing these services until at least 2022 and possibly beyond.

Will Council implement the Panel’s recommendations?

The Panel’s recommendations will be discussed and considered by Councillors at a Council meeting in July. No decisions will be made until this time.

Council could choose to accept or reject any of the recommendations in the report.

The draft report includes recommendations about what could happen if the Federal Government discontinues block funding.

However, the Council meeting in July 2019 will not make a decision about the future of existing aged care services funded by the Federal Government. This is because the Federal Government’s recent extension of block funding means that Council will be providing existing aged care services until at least June 2022.

When will we know if Commonwealth block funding of home care services will be extended past June 2022?

There is no information about what is planned after this date. 

Why is the review happening when there is a Royal Commission into Age Care underway?

The Royal Commission into Age Care Quality and Safety has a national focus. This Independent Review process, which was started before the Royal Commission was announced, focuses on local issues and the specific needs of the Darebin community. It looks at aspects of supporting older people in our community that Council can influence and control, as well as the impact of broader state and national policy.

This review also goes beyond the Royal Commission and explores what Council can do more generally to create an Age Friendly city like supporting appropriate and more affordable housing, improving outdoor spaces so they are safer and more accessible, assisting older people to access information they need, increasing social and volunteering opportunities and prioritising support and programs for vulnerable and isolated people.

We do expect that the Royal Commission will result in many changes to how the government regulates and funds aged care. The final report from the Royal Commission is expected in April 2020. 

What does the draft report recommend about future aged care services in Darebin?

The Panel had prepared their draft report on the basis that block funding arrangements might be discontinued after June 2020. On the 2nd of April 2019 the Federal Government announced an extension of block funding arrangement to July 2022, this has suddenly changed the situation. So, some of the recommendations about existing services are not relevant at this time.

The draft report also recommends that Council consider expanding into providing Home Care Packages in some circumstances.  It also recommends adding to existing services in some cases.

Many new services and programs are also recommended, especially in relation to social isolation and social inclusion, volunteering, gardening, community hubs, housing, accessibility and transport.

Do I have to use My Aged Care to access Darebin Council services?

Home care services for older people used to be run by Council as part of the Home and Community Care (HACC) system. The services were funded substantially by State Government in Victoria, with contributions from local government.

Since 2011, the States and the Commonwealth agreed that home support services would be the responsibility of the Commonwealth with a national service delivery model.

A new My Aged Care system was introduced in 2016 which requires all people taking up home support services to contact My Aged Care and be assessed under that system. Darebin Council currently provides assessment services under My Aged Care.

Darebin council’s home support services are substantially funded by the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth sets clear requirements in our agreement with them. If Council is to provide Commonwealth funded home support services we must be part of the My Aged Care system. In 2017-18, the Commonwealth contributed $5.97 million to Council’s services.

Council believes that the My Aged Care system needs to be much more helpful and supportive to people who must use it. The Council made a submission to the Federal Government in February 2019 arguing for significant improvements to My Aged Care.

Council has also recommended to the Government that planned future reforms to assessment services should still allow for the possibility of Councils continuing to provide assessment services.

Does Council want to privatise aged care services?

Council wants the current Federal funding arrangements to be maintained so that Council can continue to deliver aged care services to older people in Darebin.

How can I provide feedback on the Panel’s draft report and recommendations?

The Panel welcomes feedback on the recommendations in the draft report. Submissions can be made in writing via:

·  Email - to AgeFriendly@Darebin.vic.gov.au

·  Letter - to City of Darebin, Aged and Disability Department, PO Box 91, Preston VIC 3072

All submissions will be reviewed and considered by the Panel when developing its Final Report and recommendations.