Port Augusta Council votes to sell aged-care facilities

FOR SALE: Council will put AM Ramsay Village and Nerrilda Nursing Home on the market following a vote on Monday night.
FOR SALE: Council will put AM Ramsay Village and Nerrilda Nursing Home on the market following a vote on Monday night.

PORT Augusta City Council voted to seek a new operator for its two aged care facilities, AM Ramsay Village and Nerrilda Nursing Home.

Council said the decision was made to ensure quality aged-care services will be provided for Port Augusta into the future.

The decision came on the back of specialist aged-care consultant G88 Consulting presented a report to Council in March this year outlining options for future operations of its residential aged care facilities. 

Included was a recommendation Council continue with its original decision to sell Nerrilda Nursing Home and AM Ramsay Village.

Port Augusta Mayor Sam Johnson said elected members struggled making the decision, but made it having looked at all the options with the future provision of aged-care in Port Augusta in mind.

“Elected members had to weigh up the benefit of delaying the matter for a number of months while a further consultation period occurred, when in all likelihood there wouldn’t have been a change in the decision,” Mayor Johnson said.

Mayor Johnson suggested residential aged care is changing, both through the increase in residents with complex care needs, and through the impact of federal government aged-care reforms. 

He said Council as a provider is finding it increasingly difficult to manage the complexities being an aged-care provider brings.

“Aged care is a changing industry with increasing complexity of legislation around the provision of aged care and is better suited to large, specialist aged care organisations, which can attract higher funding levels and invest in capital upgrades,” Mayor Johnson said.

“As a council, the only way we can attract increased funding is by increasing rates.

“The majority of councils historically providing aged care have moved out of the industry, with Port Augusta just one of three Councils of 68 in South Australia that still operate aged care facilities,” Mayor Johnson said.

Mr Johnson said council wants to ensure the community continues to receive a high standard of aged-care services and we will be seeking an experienced, reputable organisation to operate services in Port Augusta, with the intent to expand services to meet the growing demand. 

“This is something that council is not able to do,” Mayor Johnson said.

Mayor Johnson said residents, their families and staff at both facilities are of paramount importance during the process, and they will be kept informed as the process to seek a new owner commences.

“As we have done over the past three years, we will keep residents, their families and staff informed of the process, with council staff available to address any of their questions or concerns at any time,” Mayor Johnson said.

“We will also keep the community informed, as we have previously done, through our website, Facebook, community newsletter and the media as part of a comprehensive communication strategy.”

Council sought expressions of interest for an aged-care provider to operate the facilities following consultation with staff, residents and their families, fundraising groups for the facilities and the community back in 2013.

This call resulted in five organisations expressing interest and after initial conversations, detailed discussions were held with one organisation. 

This organisation subsequently withdrew interest in August 2015.

Prior to the EOI process in 2013, Port Augusta City Council’s Ageing Strategy 2007-2012 was developed after extensive community consultation, with one of the key recommendations stating the need to initiate discussions with aged- care providers to develop and manage additional aged care places to meet future demand.