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Boroondara elderly residents abandoned by a private elderly carer after council exit

Written by Javed Iqbal

Nielsen said she was lucky to be able to clean for herself if she did a little each day, but she was concerned about residents who needed help with showering and personal care.

“I’m more likely to fall over the vacuum cleaner,” she said. “I can drive it around, but I’m a bit clumsy with it, so I appreciate having someone else do it for me. I feel sorry for people who are in more dire straits than I am. “

Megan Peniston-Bird, 77, is disabled with arthritis and her 84-year-old husband has emphysema. The couple have received home care from Boroondara Council for 10 years and have helped with cleaning.

She also waited for someone to provide home care on Tuesday, but no one showed up.

“It’s a complete balls-up,” she said. “It has been completely negligent. This is advice that should know better. This is all supposed to be us who live in society and don’t cost the government a fortune to be in care.”

Boroondara’s decision to exist aged care was opposed by many elderly residents at the time who said they was not heard properly and did not want to change relatives.

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A Boroondara spokesman said mecwacare had advised the council and the government that it needed six weeks to transfer the elderly residents of Boroondara to its services and the council had been working on that timeframe.

“Mecwacare never disclosed any concern regarding staff shortages and possible impact on services to the council before the transition to this Commonwealth Government service commenced,” the spokesman said. “If there are service issues, this is a matter for the Commonwealth Government as the owner of the service and mecwacare as its provider.”

Boroondara said it made the switch because of the introduction of the government’s Support at Home program, which requires providers to offer specialist services such as occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Aged Care said that when Boroondara made the decision to no longer offer aged care, the Government undertook a “rigorous process” to select a new provider.

“It is a matter for both the outbound and inbound providers to manage the organization and staffing requirements involved in the transition,” the spokesman said. “The department notes that there has been some disruption to services as mecwacare staff on board. Mecwacare is actively recruiting additional aged care staff to deal with the increase in customer numbers.”

He said it was unfortunate but disruption could occur due to the competitive environment for staff at the moment.

Australian Services Union secretary Lisa Darmanin said Boroondara’s decision to stop offering residential aged care had put the welfare of elderly residents at risk.

“Local councils are trusted, reliable providers of aged care in the home and should not abandon vulnerable older residents by ending their role in aged care,” she said. “Privatization of home aged care services is not just a policy failure, it is a risk to older people who rely on essential home aged care services.”

Darmanin said the privatization of senior care was a statewide problem.

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“ASU is looking into the continuity of aged care where other councils have recently taken the misguided decision to privatize residential aged care,” she said. “Every councilor elected to a council that still provides aged care in the home needs to look very carefully at what has happened in Boroondara and consider whether that is what they want [to happen to] older people in their community.”

The Local Government Association of Victoria said 23 councils around the state were ending their aged care or had already done so.

MAV president David Clark said councils had long been providers of aged care services.

“As federal reforms across the aged care sector continue to be implemented, we continue to call for the reforms to provide the capacity to enable councils to remain service providers without an unfair burden and ensure that any service changes do not leave older Victorians are disadvantaged in terms of the service they receive,” he said.

Mecwacare did not respond to requests for comment.

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Javed Iqbal

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