Client Profile: Eldercare

In Aged Care, High Profile Scrutiny Means Staying Ahead of the Game is a Must.

Progressive. Diverse. Agile. Collaborative. These are not normally the buzzwords you would expect to hear said about any aged care provider, let alone an old-school operator with religious roots and an organisational ancestry tracing back to the 1950s. But as Eldercare’s CE, Jane Pickering, tells us, embracing such leading-edge ways of doing things is the only route to the right culture for truly best practice aged care.

There are certainly lots of topical subjects to talk about in aged care, at a time when there is high profile scrutiny across the sector, including numerous news stories involving hidden TV cameras and an ongoing Royal Commission. How does a leader in the field like Eldercare keep on top of these almost daily developments?

“Well, we have to be incredibly agile”, explains Jane, “which to start with means keeping a very, very close eye on what’s going on in and around the sector. We have a multi-layered approach to information gathering and monitoring, with people scanning all major and local news networks, including all social media platforms. We also subscribe to a plethora of industry related publications, newsletters and alerts, including a legislation monitoring system which notifies us the moment any legislation around aged care is changed, so we can immediately assess the impact. And yes, we have a detailed daily update from the Royal Commission.”

“Of course, much more important than the information itself,” adds Jane, with fervour, “is what we do with it. How we react. Using this information to ensure we adapt and improve. So, we are constantly testing and enhancing new ideas, engaging focus groups and practical research to ensure we stay ahead of the game, with a model of care that is fit for purpose to serve our dearly valued consumers with leading-edge best practice, long into the future. Future-proofing what we do and how we do it is by far the biggest challenge we face.”      

In the news: Exceptional achievements set Eldercare apart in aged care.

You don’t have to dig very deep into Eldercare’s history to find bright shining examples of progressive ideas from an innovator in its space. Just look at their news feed from the last few months.

Eldercare given ‘tick of approval’ for LGBTI inclusive practice

“We’re very, very proud of this achievement,” says Jane with a beaming smile. “It’s a very exclusive club, and we are the only residential aged care provider in South Australia to be a member of it. But as much as I love the notoriety, I really do wish more organisations in our sector made more effort in this direction. Inclusivity is key in best practice aged care.”

Australian Government’s Aged Care Quality Standards & Charter of Aged Care Rights

To spotlight how Eldercare works so well within this framework, Jane points us towards a testimonial from Mavis Smith, a proud resident and the Social Club President at Eldercare’s Seaford facility:

“The managers are good at keeping us informed and involved. We had a visit from a manager at Eldercare’s head office last week to talk to us about continuous improvement. She asked if we’d seen the Charter of Rights and whether we understood the new Aged Care Quality Standards.

“We then had a residents’ meeting about them. Some people are reluctant to say things, but the Charter of Rights stresses that they must feel free to do so. So as a resident, I can encourage other residents to say whatever they like. I can then take their feedback to management who can make the necessary changes.”

$15,000 donation to domestic violence good cause

A $15k donation is just the start of Eldercare’s dedication to good causes. As Jane explains, in this organisation charity really does begin at home.

“Supporting any of our staff who have been victims of domestic violence, and doing whatever we can to prevent it in the first place, is incredibly important to us, both as an organisation and as a collection of individuals. So it’s no surprise we chose a prominent domestic violence charity to receive the bounty of this fundraising effort – through activities supporting one of our senior managers undertaking a 10-day Mawson Trail Epic bike ride from Adelaide to Blinman in May. In fact, Eldercare has its own good cause, a safety net in place for when our staff need urgent help as a result of domestic violence, or any other serious life event that leads to financial hardship. Our ‘Staff Emergency Relief Fund” receives voluntary contributions from our employees and is on standby to offer financial assistance and support when our people need it. This fund has helped our staff in many ways… rehousing a staff member who was left homeless following domestic violence… covering rent for another employee when their spouse suddenly lost his job… arranging pro-bono legal support for a single dad of three when floods ruined his house and the insurers wouldn’t pay up. The list goes on… this fund really does make a huge statement about the culture and compassion that flows through Eldercare.”

When it comes to the quality of service at Eldercare, Mum’s the word. (And Dad.)

Jane has been at the helm of Eldercare for six years, and by the time you’re reading this she will have notched up 40 years in professional healthcare. She started as a nurse and midwife, studied education and management, specialised in community engagement and research across rural and remote regions, then made her way to Eldercare via a number of senior roles – including the chief executive position at another aged care provider, and St Andrews hospital.

When asked to summarise what the organisation’s consumers think of the service they receive, Jane simply replies with an anecdote or two, about mum and dad.

“My father in law just recently passed away in an Eldercare home. He spent 18 months at Acacia Court in Hendon under our care with dementia. And while I’m obviously very across any feedback we get from families and I know what a great job our staff do, it was still an incredibly heart-warming experience to see them in action as a consumer. He was beautifully looked after and we as a family could not have been happier with the relentlessly brilliant service.”

“Conversely, my mother is still fighting fit with all her faculties, and at the age of 84 living alone has developed a tendency to be ‘naughty’. When she plays up, I joke around threatening her that unless she starts behaving I’ll put her in a home. And her comeback is a delight… she says ‘Oooh you mean that lovely home round the corner where my friends are? I love it there, can you get me a room with a garden view?”

“The home my mum’s referring to is Cottage Grove, another Eldercare residence. And the thing is, if the time ever arises that a care home is the right answer for my mum, I know she’d be genuinely happy there. And I’d be really happy about it too, which I think just about says it all.”

Jane and her team at Eldercare are longtime clients and dear friends of DW Fox Tucker. We look forward to many more years supporting them in their mission to offer leading-edge best-practice care to every single South Australian senior under an Eldercare roof… a population that at some point in the future may, or may not, include Jane’s ‘naughty’ mum.

Jane Pickering
CE, Eldercare

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