Landmark partnership to give certainty to Western Downs health services

2 September 2021

Specialists in aged and community care for more than 40 years, Southern Cross Care Queensland (SCCQ), has entered an agreement with Western Downs Regional Council (WDRC) to help ensure the future of aged care facilities in the region.

Under the arrangement, Southern Cross Care Queensland will assume management of Tarcoola Aged Care from WDRC, the current owner-operator, on Monday, September 6, 2021.  The facility which can provide aged care accommodation for up to 33 residents, was previously facing closure.

In addition, Council has approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) as the basis upon which contracts can be negotiated for the possible transfer of ownership of all its aged and community care facilities and services to Southern Cross Care Queensland in 2022.

The MOU includes Tarcoola as well as the Carinya Residential Aged Care Facility in Miles, which can accommodate up to 17 residents, and the Council-run Community Home Care Services, currently providing services to some 300 people aged 65 and over, across the regions of Chinchilla, Tara, Jandowae, Miles and Meandarra.

Subject to successful negotiations between the parties, the transaction is likely to be completed by the end of March next year.

Southern Cross Care Queensland CEO Jason Eldering said the move to Tarcoola aligned with the organisation’s deep commitment to caring for vulnerable Queenslanders and accommodating them in times of need.

“We have a strong track-record in ensuring established communities can continue to operate and we have developed expertise in successfully transitioning other homes in rural and regional locations including Taroom, Chinchilla, Murgon, Nanango and Allora,” Mr Eldering said.

“We are confident we can deliver the same model of quality, sustainable aged care in Tara and Miles by working in close partnership with the communities we serve, including the local staff, residents and their families.

“With their feedback we can leverage our centralised, scaleable resources and specialist expertise in management, administration and governance of residential aged care homes, allowing our carers on the ground to focus on what they do best – providing compassionate care and clinical support to vulnerable elderly people,” Mr Eldering said.

Critical to the arrangement is an ongoing partnership between Southern Cross Care Queensland as operators, Western Downs Regional Council and all levels of government and other stakeholders, Mr Eldering said.

“This process will see us enter into a community contract if you like with the Council, State and Federal governments, and other key stakeholders to ensure we are all committed to a regional strategy for the long-term viability of the aged care communities at both Tara and Miles,” he said.

Western Downs Lord Mayor, Cr Paul McVeigh said Council was confident that Southern Cross Care Queensland would leverage its considerable expertise and experience in successfully operating aged care services in rural and regional Queensland to provide quality care to the residents of Tarcoola.

Cr McVeigh said negotiations with Southern Cross Care Queensland under the MOU would now begin for the orderly transfer of Council’s aged and community care facilities and services.

“I’m delighted that such a respected provider as Southern Cross Care Queensland has agreed to enter into formal negotiations with us,” he said.

“It would be a significant outcome for the Western Downs Region if Council and Southern Cross Care successfully reached a final agreement.

“Both parties are going into these negotiations with a great deal of confidence and respect.”

Cr McVeigh said Council has been working hard for many years to secure a specialist provider to grow and improve health services in the Western Downs region.

“Southern Cross Care Queensland is a highly-experienced provider with state-wide infrastructure and expertise gained from more than 40 years’ experience in aged care,” he said.

“With its singular mission to provide the highest quality care to our most vulnerable, Southern Cross Care Queensland has the ability to bring a new and improved level of aged and community care to the residents of Western Downs.”