Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA Jul-Aug 2013 Contents THE SPIRIT AND dedication of the first 'Blue'
nurse -- so called because of the colour of
the uniform -- is ever present in the Blue
Care of today.
When Sister Olive Smith (nee Crombie)
travelled by tram to make the first house call
on August 24, 1953, the mission board could
only guarantee her three weeks' wages, but
believing it was God's will, she took a leap
"We had no vehicle and very little equipment,
but we did have a plan to meet the needs of
people in the community," she recalled.
From humble beginnings, Blue Care has
grown to be one of Australia's largest service
providers with more than 8,700 staff and 2,300
volunteers working across a wide range of
care and support roles. There are more than
260 Blue Care locations -- from Thursday
Island in the north to Mt Isa, Longreach and
Cunnamulla in the west and flanking the
border with New South Wales in the Tweed
District in the south.
Services are available to older Australians;
people living with chronic disease or a
disability and; those recovering from illness or
hospitalisation. They are offered in people's
homes, in the community, in residential aged
care facilities and retirement living villages.
Blue Care Executive Director Robyn
Batten said the dedication of Blue Care's first
nurse, along with her skill and compassion, is
echoed in each of the community nursing and
care services Blue Care provides today.
"Our team reaches out across
communities to support people, regardless
of their socio-economic, ethnic, religious or
spiritual background," Ms Batten said.
"Providing services in the community, in
people's homes, our staff make more than 3.1
million community visits per year.
"Blue Care also provides palliative care to
more than 500 people every week, allowing
them the dignity and comfort of spending their
last days at home with their loved ones."
In total, more than 13,000 people rely on
the services of Blue Care every day.
"Our clients and residents invite us into
their lives and those of their families and
carers and we support their care choices.
"We've made our name by listening to the
people who choose to use our services, their
carers and family members and hearing their
needs and wants."
In these times of changing government
policy and funding; the growing expectations
of ageing Australians; the increasing demand
and cost for delivering care services; a
maturing workforce and; the shortage of
skilled aged care staff, Blue Care is meeting
the challenge through the implementation
of innovative service delivery methods, and
culture and wellbeing strategies.
"It has been our partnerships which
have assisted us in meeting the challenges;
partnerships with those we care for and their
communities; our staff, volunteers and donors;
other care providers; and the Church," she said.
After months of consultation and planning,
involving people from across Australia, Blue
Care recently launched it new service model,
Blue Care Tailor Made. The new model will
guide and shape the organisation's services.
"The model builds on our strengths and
creates services which are 'tailor made' to
suit the 60,000 individuals we assist across
Queensland and northern New South Wales
every year," Ms Batten said.
"It is a common reference guide for staff,
which defines the services we provide to people
through the ageing process and life's changes.
"A person can engage with one or several
components of our new model at any time to
receive a combination of care and services
that is right for them."
With demand for all care increasing, Blue
Care staff made more than 90,000 additional
community visits last financial year.
"Partnerships with other local care providers,
such as hospitals, general practitioners, Medicare
Locals and pharmacies, have strengthened and
provided strong networks to identify and meet
local care needs, to support individuals in their
own communities," Ms Batten said.
While funding continues to be a challenge,
Blue Care's strong partnerships with donors,
corporate supporters and volunteers continue.
"This support has made it possible to grow
the organisation to meet the specific needs of
local communities," she said.
In the past year alone these donations and
volunteer assistance has opened a Men's Shed;
delivered community vehicle sponsorships;
bought books and activity supplies; worked on
landscaping and garden beautification; and run
special Christmas lunches and holidays.
"Our volunteers are an integral and valued
part of our organisation," Ms Batten said.
"People from all backgrounds, aged
from 18 to 90 years old, choose to spend
their time with us and assist us to drive our
Ms Batten said Blue Care is continually
finding innovative ways to support staff.
"The compassionate and professional
care our organisation delivers is only possible
because of the calibre of the people who work
for us," she said.
Recent innovations, including the use of tele-
health for allied health services; the introduction
of mobile technology devices to reduce travel
and administration time; a new community billing
system; and the opening of a contact centre
have helped Blue Care become more efficient
and maximised the time available for care.
Blue Care's Azure Blue developments are
an exciting new way the organisation is catering
to the changing needs of the population.
"These developments have been designed
specifically to provide access to all levels of
care and support in on location," she said.
"They are our flagship continuing care
communities, with luxury retirement living
collocated with allied health services,
community care options and high care
residential care should the need arise.
"Azure Blue complements Blue Care's
approach to services, where person-centred
services are tailor made and flexible to meet
people's needs as their circumstances change."
Ms Batten said the first Azure Blue
development is located at Redcliffe, with
construction already underway on another at
Carina in Brisbane's east. There is also an
Azure Blue in the pre-construction phase at
Kawana on the Sunshine Coast.
With Blue Care's 60th anniversary year this
year, the organisation is celebrating with 60
events staged across Queensland and northern
New South Wales communities, thanks to a
range of sponsors, including Bunzl and Lion.
"The difference Blue Care has made to
more than 80 communities in the past 60
years is being acknowledged and celebrated.
"Our 60th gives us a great opportunity to
see how far we have come and to refocus the
organisation for the challenges of the future." n
For more information on Blue Care or to
find your nearest centre please visit the
Blue Care celebrates
60 years of care
All great organisations start somewhere. For UnitingCare
Queensland's Blue Care it all began 60 years ago, when the
not-for-profit church-based service organisation started as the
Blue Nursing Service under the stewardship of Reverend Arthur
Preston and the members of the congregation of the Methodist
Mission, West End, Brisbane.
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