By HARRY CLARKE
IN a major development which all but secures a future of high quality aged care for Western Downs residents, leading provider Southern Cross Care Queensland (SCCQ) has formalised an arrangement to acquire ownership and management of all council aged care facilities.
A $11.88 million deal between SCCQ and the Western Downs Regional Council (WDRC) will see council-owned aged care assets in Tara, Miles, Jandowae and Meandarra, as well as the council’s home care services, being transferred completely to SCCQ.
The acquisition plan comes on top of a commitment by SCCQ to spend more than $28 million on a complete rebuild of its Illoura Aged Care facility in Chinchilla, which will include 81 beds, separate affordable housing and a staff training facility.
Of the $28 million, $14 million has come from a record investment by the Federal Government announced in August by local MP David Littleproud.
WDRC mayor Paul McVeigh said it was a huge achievement by all stakeholders to essentially secure support for the region’s elderly into the future.
“This transfer is pivotal to achieving council’s long-held vision to establish a quality aged service in the Western Downs that delivers a wide range of care options for the future of the region,” Mr McVeigh said.
“This transfer of assets will impact our budget result this financial year, however Council views this as significant investment in the future of the aged care in the Western Downs.
“We are delighted to be transferring these services to a highly accredited, specialised provider like SCCQ. This is an investment in the future of aged and community care for the region and ensures our residents can age in place.”
The transfer process will be finalised by April 2022.
Under the contract, the council has agreed to invest $11.88 million in SCCQ which includes capital expenditure and service maintenance costs. All facilities, plant and equipment will also be transferred to SCCQ at no cost.
The development comes less than six months after aged care in Tara was thrown into turmoil by a council decision to close the local Tarcoola facility due to a lack of staffing and training resources.
Mr McVeigh at the time told ABC radio that the decision to close, which affected 33 aged care residents, signalled “one of the toughest days” of his local government career.
SCCQ employs more than 1000 staff across Queensland and provides services to more than 1400 elderly residents in 11 aged care facilities and five retirement villages, as well as those receiving in-home care.
SCCQ Chief Executive Officer Jason Eldering said he was delighted to confirm the arrangement and excited about establishing strong aged care services in the Western Downs for years to come.
“We know this partnership will support those in our communities with aged care needs through residential and community care,” Mr Eldering said.
“We have already begun and will spend the coming months meeting with and listening to each community we will serve in the Western Downs and as a not-for-profit provider of quality, compassionate aged care services for more than 40 years, we are looking forward to becoming part of the Western Downs.”
Maranoa MP David Littleproud said: “It’s a tragedy when our seniors are forced to move away from their rural community – and everything they’ve ever known – to a larger town or city to receive care as their needs change.”
“Southern Cross Care’s commitment to the Western Downs means our seniors can remain in our region as their needs change, close to the support of family and friends and with the necessary facilities to ensure the best of care,” he said.