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Greater choices in the home

Aged care provider ECH will sell its residential aged care centres and dedicate itself exclusively to community focused services, including increasing the options available in affordable ‘age friendly’ homes.

<p>ECH chief executive, Rob Hankins.</p>

ECH chief executive, Rob Hankins.

ECH will sell its 11 residential aged care centres in South Australia and the Northern Territory.

Ten care centres and the Hillside Gardens retirement village of 24 units in South Australia will be sold to Allity, while the Northern Territory care centre and community based services will be sold to the McKenzie Aged Care Group.

Announcing the sale yesterday, Rob Hankins, ECH chief executive says it will free up significant funds for investment in ‘ageing at home’ as ECH increases and diversifies its community services to people’s homes and expands on its 97 retirement villages around South Australia.

“Society’s expectations around ageing and the needs of older people are changing and ECH is responding. ECH’s focus will be on giving more people the opportunity and flexibility to decide where they receive the care and support they require as they age,” Mr Hankins says.

ECH will provide assistance and support to the individual to enable them to age confidently, comfortably and independently in their own home; the home they choose to live in.

“We want to provide a wider choice of services to support a greater number of older people – particularly people on lower and middle incomes – to live longer, enriched and happy lives as they age in the home of their choice,” he says.

ECH, a charitable organisation, will continue to control $400 million worth of retirement and community services assets. It will maintain a workforce of more than 700 people and already provides community services or independent retirement living units to more than 6000 people.

The board of ECH last year resolved to maximise the extent of the social benefit that ECH brings to the community. To achieve this, ECH decided to seek out one or more quality providers for its residential aged care facilities so as to devote all its energies and resources to enabling more people to age confidently and comfortably at home.

Mr Hankins claims the proceeds of the sale will enable ECH to expand its independent retirement living and community based services.

ECH residents in residential care centres will maintain their occupancy arrangements and all staff employed in these care centres will be offered continuing employment with Allity and McKenzie Aged Care.

Mr Hankins said ECH particularly looked forward to building a strong strategic and complementary service relationship with fellow South Australian aged care provider, Allity.

Despite the changes, Allity chief executive, David Armstrong, says it will be “business as usual” at all homes, with all residential aged care staff offered ongoing employment with Allity and residents' bonds and fee arrangements remaining unchanged.

McKenzie Aged Care Group is also working hand in hand with ECH to ensure a smooth transition for staff and residents.

Rob Hutchison, McKenzie Aged Care Group chief executive, says the facilities and services will be managed in the same way they are now, maintaining the high quality care residents are used to with all staff to be offered ongoing employment.

“We are excited to be able to provide residential and community care in Darwin and to continue the good work done by ECH. We look forward to ensuring the long term viability of Tiwi Residential Care Centre for the residents whose home this is,” Mr Hutchison says.

The acquisition will take McKenzie Aged Care Group staff employment to more than 1,200 staff nationally.

“Our staff are the key to the delivery of the best in aged care. We invest in ongoing education and professional development as the major factor in maintaining quality in clinical and care standards,” Mr Hutchison says.

ECH staff, residents and their families were yesterday informed of the sale.

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