THE City of Greater Bendigo says it needs to plan for funding and industry changes in Home and Community Care, due to come into effect from June next year.
Council staff faced passionate questioning from those who rely on the services during five information sessions in Bendigo this week.
The council voted to "provisionally withdraw" from providing Home and Community Care last week, with a final decision to be made at the end of March.
Concerns at the five meetings - attended by about 150 people - centred on changes in personnel delivering the service and whether there was any need to change.
Author of the council's HACC Strategic Options Project Report Michael Goldsworthy said funding for the service would transfer from the state government to the Commonwealth, drastically changing the way the services were delivered.
"These services will continue until July 2016 and on the basis of the care you need, you will be able to help find a suitable provider," he said.
"There will come a point next year when there will no longer be home and community care services.
"At that point, council will have to get in line and will be competing with other providers."
Mayor Peter Cox said local government was not used to operating in a competitive market and faced constraints not felt by private providers.
He said some services were already provided by groups other than council, including some services in Heathcote and Elmore.
Those in attendance asked whether council could guarantee services would remain at the same level should the council withdraw.
City of Greater Bendigo manager aged and disability services Rod Flavell said all providers had to adhere to industry standards, but services that go above those standards could be demand driven in the future.
"In the last couple of years we have had to rein in our services, some of which was to do with risk management," he said.
"We were just one of two councils that still provided lawn mowing services. Some things are no longer mandatory though."
City of Greater Bendigo chief executive officer Craig Niemann said council would offer to retrain workers, but it would ultimately be up to the Health Department to hire Bendigo people.
Others questioned whether people with severe conditions could cope with their care changing, if the council had already made a decision and quality guarantees.
Attendee Faye Dunlop said council should find a way to keep offering the services.
"I cannot take in that council cannot continue these services when they are able to put money into other things not as important as looking after older people," she said.
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