In the Hume region of Victoria (Goulburn, Ovens and Murray), 18 public health services have formed the Community Interlink consortium to coordinate and provide support to local people under the Home Care Packages program; the Australian Government program which provides older people who want to stay at home with access to a range of personal services, support services and clinical care to help them with their day-to-day activities.
The regional health services all had concerns regarding an open market place, the state of aged care supports at home, and the level of disconnect with the local public health services. In some small regional areas there were suddenly dozens of ‘approved’ providers that 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. The service model draws on local expertise and parties of the consortium and is uniquely tailored to respond to needs of local communities with local health services providing support across the care continuum. The focus is to build on the services capacity and track record of sustainable support to people at the point of need.
Capacity is built by securing contracts for the delivery of health and wellbeing services within communities and ensuring revenue is managed through a joint approach to the service model. The consortium works toward building the capacity of member agencies to deliver direct care and coordinated care from their own employees, and to open up new contracting opportunities. It is able to consolidate existing revenue streams, promoting joint working and encouraging organisational learning and development.
All 18 members of the Community Interlink consortium represent publicly funded health services supporting their local communities across Goulburn, Ovens and Murray, and Riverina/Murray. They are all separate, independent agencies with their own management and accountability structures and with their own unique way of operating. Their differences and independence will be protected and strengthened under the value base of strong locally governed health and wellbeing services.
Since 2012, there has been extensive reform in various sectors, driven by multiple Productivity Commission reports in health, allied health, the not-for-profit and charitable sectors, education, mental health, aged care and disability services.
There is a movement away from grants and agreements, toward the procurement of services via tendering and contracting, and toward entitlement-based care in which the community is purchasing services, thus changing the traditional focus on the ‘provider’ or ‘public’ sector.
The social reform move toward great consumer choice and purchasing power also heads a drive towards greater public sector efficiencies. Organisations will be under pressure to reduce transaction costs not only by seeking to establish joint buyer syndicates but also by pooling existing resources and contracts into single, aggregated approaches such as consortiums or partnerships.
The focus on greater value for money through patient/consumer-directed care forms the context for the development of consortium approaches, not just in health but across the full range of service sectors.
This drive is also resulting in the emergence of single points of contracting, whereby a number of services together form one contracting channel to achieve greater economies of scale and efficiencies in supporting consumers to access services and supports
Community Interlink now supports about 270 Home Care consumers regionally, with care coordinated by staff employed at the various consortium member health services. It has great potential to support local people across the range of Commonwealth Home Support Programs and the National Disability Insurance Scheme into the future and ensure the range of public health services stay connected to their communities in this rapid time of social reform.
Five official Community Interlink launches are being held within the consortium’s servicing region. See www.communityinterlink.org.au for details.