A council in regional Queensland has transferred all of its aged and home care assets to a private, not-for-profit aged care provider in a deal worth almost $12 million.
From April 1, all Western Downs Regional Council-run residential aged care homes, community home care services, and associated assets became owned and operated by Southern Cross Care Queensland.
Under the contract, council agreed to invest $11.88 million in SCCQ which includes capital expenditure and service maintenance costs.
All facilities, plant and equipment were transferred to SCCQ at no cost.
When in negotiations, Mayor Paul McVeigh said the transfer of assets would impact its budget result this financial year, however council viewed it as "significant investment in the future" of aged care in the Western Downs.
It follows the joint signing of a memorandum of understanding between the two organisations in November 2021.
The mayor said the transfer would signal a greater confidence and certainty in relation to the availability of quality aged care services across the region.
"[This] transfer is a win for the community. It's the culmination of our strong partnership with SCCQ and many years of hard work by council to secure a specialist provider to grow and improve local aged care services in our region," Mr McVeigh said.
"Our core focus has always been about ensuring our community has the ability to age in place by having access to quality aged and community care services, and this has been achieved through the transfer to SCCQ."
SCCQ is a not-for-profit organisation established by Catholic service organisation, the Knights of the Southern Cross.
It brings Tarcoola and Carinya Residential Aged Care homes and hundreds of community home care clients in Chinchilla, Jandowae, Meandarra, Miles and Tara under its umbrella.
SCCQ CEO Jason Eldering said the completion of the transfer signalled an important step forward.
"We believe in the fundamental right of all Australians to age in the place they call home, which is why we already deliver services in many rural areas of Queensland," Mr Eldering said.
"Today, we commit to partnering with the people of the Western Downs to help create communities where best lives are lived, now and into the future."
Council and SCCQ said it was "just the first step" towards "securing an innovative regional strategy" for sustainable aged care in country Queensland.
"The job is far from over, and council - in partnership with SCCQ - will continue to advocate on behalf of the community for investment and action to address chronic health professional shortages [and] innovative models of care that meet current and future demands of people growing older in regional areas ...," Mr McVeigh said.
In December, Maranoa MP David Littleproud said the deal meant seniors wouldn't be forced to leave their community for health services.
"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," Mr Littleproud said.
"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."
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