In what is believed to be an Australian first, 18 health services from across the region including Yarrawonga Health have united for the sustainability of locally governed home care (aged care at home) for senior members of the community.
Following the 2015 Commonwealth Home Care funding reforms, resulting in a new open marketplace for home care providers, many smaller health services found it challenging to continue providing home care.
A consortium arrangement between the health services, now guarantees each member’s ability to continue providing home care to their communities.
Yarrawonga Health CEO, Elaine Mallows said she was pleased with the program allowing older people to stay living at home but also being able to access care.
“Home Care Packages benefit older Australians in our region by assisting them to live actively in the community and in their own home, as long as they are able to and while supporting them as their needs change and grow,” Ms Mallows said.
“The consortium arrangement guarantees that older people within our community will always have access to home care via their local provider, whom they recognise and trust and the consortium alliance provides the assurance that the local community will always have access to home care from a local provider.
“More and more older Australians are wanting to remain living in their own homes for as long as possible. Home care packages enable them to do just that,’
To date, 18 health services from northern and central Victoria and southern New South Wales have joined the consortium collectively branded ‘Community Interlink’.
“Basically we wanted to ensure that senior members of our communities would always have access to Home Care services from a locally governed provider,” said Community Interlink Governance Group member, Gordon Ross.
“Local providers are those that can offer the highest level of support having local staff, with local knowledge and networks.”
Community Interlink members include: Yarrawonga Health, Northeast Health Wangaratta, Gateway Health, GV Health, Beechworth Health Service, Euroa Health, Nathalia Health, Numurkah District Health Service, Benalla Health, Seymour Health, Mansfield District Hospital, Indigo North Health, Yea & District Memorial Hospital, Albury Wodonga Health, Tallangatta Health Service, Nexus Primary Health, Alexandra District Hospital and Kilmore & District Hospital.
Community Interlink Governance Group Chair Suzanne Miller said the consortium would now support approximately 300 home care clients regionally, with care coordinated via staff employed at the various health services.
“When we received news of the home care reforms, regional health services had concerns regarding the potential level of detachment with the local public health services that could result,” Ms Miller said.
“After the competitive marketplace was launched, in some small regional areas there were suddenly dozens of new home care providers who had little or no connection to the community concerned or the current health sector.
“The primary goal of the consortium is to build on a shared philosophy and commitment to supporting local communities via local health services and the focus is to build on the services’ capacity and track record of sustainable support to people at the point of need.
“It will work towards building the capacity of member agencies to deliver direct care and coordinated care from their own employed staff, and to open up new contracting opportunities and consolidate existing revenue streams, promoting joint working and encouraging organizational learning and development.
“The consortium model has great potential to support local people across the range of available Commonwealth Home Support Programs and NDIS into the future. This will ensure our fantastic range of public health services stay connected to their communities in this rapid time of social reform.”