Frequently Asked Questions

Integration Plan – Frequently Asked Questions

CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health have been working closely together to strengthen community health and services in the local area.

The Boards of CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health are developing a plan for the integration of community services to ensure the continued provision of accessible and responsive community health services for our local communities.

This document answers commonly asked questions about the integration between CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health.

Why are CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health planning for integration?

The Boards of CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health are committed to the sustainability of services for our community.

An integration plan is being developed to enable the continued provision of accessible and responsive community health services for our local community.

CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health have been working closely together to consider options to strengthen community health and access to community services in our local area.

Both organisations have a strong connection to the shared communities that we serve. We are pooling our resources to get the best health and wellbeing outcomes for our community.

As a small organisation, CHIRP Community Health is faced with the same compliance and governance requirements for the delivery of community services as many larger organisations.

Integration will combine the resources of both organisations and ensure the community has access to a range of community health services.

What are the benefits for the local community?

Since 2018, CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health have been working closely together to consider options to strengthen community health and access to community services in the local area.

Integrating community services will ensure sustainable, accessible and responsive local community health services continue to be delivered for Mount Alexander Shire communities.

The proposal to integrate community health and community services aims to:

  • ensure future sustainability
  • enhance access to community health and services across the Mount Alexander Shire
  • strengthen services to better meet the evolving needs of the community
  • share the burden of compliance and ensure that our funding can be targeted to direct services as much as possible
  • enhance opportunities for staff development/training/skill sharing and best practice

Is CHIRP Community Health in financial trouble?

Smaller agencies still need to fund a range of back-office services, and every dollar spent on administration or paperwork is a dollar less for services for the community. This puts pressure on our budget for direct client services. CHIRP Community Health is operating in an increasingly complex environment. Resource intensive regulatory and compliance requirements are increasing, and they are the same for all organisations, regardless of their size.

The complexity of the environment has put significant pressure on CHIRP’s resources and over the past year, we have made changes to respond to this increasing pressure.

CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health, like other services need to consider where we should direct our funding. Our preference is to direct available funding to service delivery as much as possible.

Combining our resources will achieve this and enable sustainable, quality services for our community. Integration may also provide us with a stronger case to attract additional services and funding in the future.

Is this a merger?

Both organisations are equal partners in this process.

The structure and governance of this combined community health service will be developed over the next 6 months.

The detailed plan for integration will consider the governance, financial, service, human resource and legal impacts of integration.

What influence can I have over the future of community health services?

Staff and community consultation are important parts of the process and will inform the development of an integration plan.

Consultation will continue to be an important part of services being developed into the future.

Staff and community consultation is occurring up to 6 November.

What will this mean for staff?

Services will be enhanced in the long term. Our current staff are a vital part of program and service delivery. The integration will result in the combination of staffing and services currently delivered by both organisations.

Integration of community health services will create opportunities for professional development and collaboration for our valued staff, to create new ways of working and models of service delivery that enhance community services.

What will happen to CHIRP Community Health volunteers?

Volunteers for both organisations play a vital role in supporting the delivery of community health services. Volunteers are valued and will continue to have input into shaping community health services for the communities of Mount Alexander Shire.

We hope that volunteers of both organisations will be able to work together to continue their important work to support the communities across Mount Alexander Shire. The structure and governance of the combined team (including staff and volunteers) will be developed over the next 6 months.

What will happen to the existing funding for our services?

There will be no reduction in funding for the community health programs.

Will we still operate from the same location?

We know that accessibility of services is important to our community and will be a key consideration in the integration plan (including parking and public transport).

In the short-term services will continue to be delivered from the current locations.

How and where services will be delivered, will be considered as part of the integration plan to be developed over the next 6 months, but we are committed to accessibility for our community.

Has an independent assessment of the merits of the integration plan been undertaken?

The two Boards are developing the plan for integration based on an independent review undertaken in early 2020 which presented options to enhance community services through CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health working more closely together.

Independent consultants have been engaged to assist both organisations to develop the integration plan that will include an extensive assessment of the governance, financial, service, human resource and legal impacts for consideration.

How are the organisations working together now?

We have a long and proud history of working together. CHIRP and Castlemaine Health have been collaborating closely during COVID-19 to provide pop-up testing and rapid testing responses.

Prior to COVID-19, CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health staff have been delivering services across both sites. For example, diabetes support and podiatry, working on community engagement projects and considering joint grants.

If CHIRP Community Health and Castlemaine Health combine their community health services, what will it be called?

This will be discussed as part of consultations and the integration planning process. Regardless of the branding and structure, services will continue.

What happens next?

A detailed plan for integration is being developed. It will consider the governance, financial, service, human resource and legal impacts of integration.

Staff and community consultation are happening until 6 November and will inform the development of the detailed plan for integration.

The integration plan will be provided to the Boards of each organisation for consideration. Endorsement and approval by both Boards and the Minister for Health is required before the integration can proceed any further.

What is the timeframe for this process?

It is expected that the integration plan will be completed early in 2021. It will then be considered by the Boards of both organisations before a final recommendation is made to the Minister for Health.

To develop the integration plan, we are consulting with the community, staff, members and wider stakeholders until 6 of November.