Better home support spending sought

The rationalisation of home-support services that saw Presbyterian Support Otago (PSO) dumped as a provider will help prevent further budget overspending in disability support, a Southern District Health Board committee heard yesterday.

The disability support committee briefly discussed a $600,000 cost overrun in disability support services in December against a budget of $10.82 million. It was mainly due to an increase in home support personal care provision, and to a lesser degree, increased rest-home and hospital costs. Finance and funding executive director Robert Mackway-Jones said the new service model would increase ''effectiveness of spending'' on home-based services. It would help keep people in their own homes, he said.

The new system, to be phased in from next month, will see three providers delivering a ''restorative'' model, designed to increase independence.

The board was also improving or introducing unrelated programmes designed to increase the independence of older people, he said.

The home-based support service provider changes were also flagged for discussion in the public-excluded section of the committee meeting. Today, PSO could seek an interim legal injunction against the health board's decision to exclude it from the new service, depending on the outcome of its appeal to the full board this morning. PSO will also present a petition with more than 13,000 signatures.

The meeting is at 10am, at Wakari Hospital, in Dunedin.

The board yesterday released the home-based support service request for proposal (RFP), but declined to release tender documents, citing commercial considerations. The RFP shows tenderers were asked to quote a unit price for several client types, and specify whether their prices would change depending on the number of providers chosen. This was for information purposes, given the system was bulk-funded, the document said.

The annual budget for the service was $13 million, of which the board would retain 10% in a contingency fund. Contracts would last five years.

The Otago Daily Times has also requested a copy of the report to board members, a response on which is due by February 19.

- eileen.goodwin@odt.co.nz

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