Home' Australian Ageing Agenda : AAA May-Jun 2014 Contents SPONSORED FEATURE
searching for an aged care facility were most often driven by
their denomination. Now it is where is the closest and what is the
best? "This is because usually it is the children deciding for their
parents or parent. Families do lots of research and the religious
connection is not at the forefront as it was in the past. More often
it is word-of-mouth that influences that decision.
"This is the profile we are pushing, 'Care you can trust',
because the denominational distinctive is not nearly as strong as
it was. The practicalities, not the fact it is a Baptist facility may
be part of it but is no longer a prerequisite."
And there has been a growing shift towards caring for people
in the home with governments providing more services for people
to remain there. So much so that Low says funding received by
BaptistCare for these home services is nearing that being received
for residential care and explains why occupancy in the residential
environment does not have the waiting list it used to have.
"We are looking at around 96 per cent occupancy and the
length of stay in residential care has come down from 10 years
in the mid 1990's, to two years on average now. A lot of this is
because people arrive in the final stages of palliation or end of
dementia regime so the cycle is shorter and the turnover is faster.
"As a result, fewer facilities are being built whilst older style
facilities are being reconfigured to accommodate different
requirements. Many four-bed wards with shared bathrooms are being
replaced with new buildings providing single rooms with an ensuite.
Another notable change to emerge involves mobility. Many
residents had cars 20 years ago but now as many enter these
facilities in their final years, a walker is the new mode of transport.
The aged care industry is alive with challenges and the biggest
one of all is providing greater efficiencies while still delivering the
same level of care to the individual. A cop-out would be to say it
comes down to lack of money but looking at the figures for the
past decade you can see why the bottom line appears to be going
in the wrong direction.
According to Low, over the past 10 years or more the subsidy
increase has been 2 to 2.3 per cent on average while wages and
salaries for nurses and carers has gone up 3.5 to 4 per cent. "As
part of coping with this imbalance we have been streamlining the
workplace by investing in new technologies and improvements to
internal training," he says.
"There are ways of refining operations but it is not always easy
and the challenge is to keep the business running smoothly so
we are here for the next 70 years." The NSW and ACT operations
deliver 50 per cent of turnover to Baptist Care Australia which
has an annual turnover of $500 million.
Asked what he would like to change, Low is circumspect. "In
fairness, the level at which carers are paid. It is hard to get good
quality care in the home and in the residential environment.
The amount of money we pay, like to pay and want to pay under
enterprise bargaining and as far as awards are concerned is low.
We are in competition with workers on the supermarket checkout
and in hardware stores. These people often earn more than a
Certificate II or Certificate III carer. Our staff retention rate is
running at around 25 per cent turnover. All the training, working
with, all the work you need to do with new people can be taxing
on the organisation. If you could have retention of 10 per cent
or below then all the benefits that would come from having a
continuous, consistent workforce begin to pay off with greater
"But you can see the conundrum as 75 per cent of our costs sit
with people. We are not a factory making products. Our product
relies on the love and care of a person to care for those at home
or in the facility. It is a big call. It is not an easy job and there are
situations where it can be hard and the average person cannot
cope with that. So these are special people and we are blessed in
a sense that we usually choose well and get the right people. But
it would be lovely to pay them a bit more."
DELIVERING ON A PROMISE
"Something on this scale is a first for us. It introduced a new
name, a new brand and a new culture and brought them
BaptistCare Marketing Manager, David
Hancock, is talking about the sheer size
of the ambitious launch program, that,
on 18 March embraced 60 plus sites in
NSW & ACT with 4,000 staff and 1,000
"It all came together on the day in a
remarkable and consistent direction but it
made our task a big one. We did not invent
anything in the rebranding; it came from
the organisation, the care, the people, the
facilities and the principles that have been
in place for 70 years."
Hancock says as part of the brand
alignment process, some fundamental
questions were asked, such as: Who is
BaptistCare and what does it stand for?
"We tested that against what was said
in 1944 and years later. We kept coming
back to our beginnings that reaffirmed and
re-expressed exactly the same purpose
that existed in 1944, which basically
organisation. We have not reinvented the
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