Innovations and Improvements Set Up Aged Care Provider for Strong Future
Australia’s population is aging. Soon, aged care services will be driving the healthcare industry. And as the ACT’s largest provider to the aging population, Goodwin Aged Care Services is upgrading facilities and incorporating new innovations now to be ready for the increase in business and a complex new clientelle.
Goodwin provides its high-quality aged care services and accommodations across the ACT through experience-driven developments in independent living villages, reliable in-home community care, and pioneering residential aged care facilities.
The independent, not-for-profit organisation was founded in 1954 by the National Council of Women, which proposed a housing settlement for the elderly in the region. Now the organisation manages 449 independent living units and 360 aged care places across four sites in the ACT with assets of over $350 million.
VENTURE Magazine had the opportunity to speak with Liesel Wett, Chair of the Board of Directors, and Sue Levy, CEO, about how Goodwin is approaching the future from a facility, employment, and technological standpoint.
Before a conversation about the future could begin however, a celebration of the past and present had to take place. Goodwin recognised its 60th anniversary in 2014—no small feat for any organisation.
“I think our longevity and success can be attributed to our strong and established brand. The Goodwin brand is all about doing something to be proud of, bringing talented people together and creating something that’s going to make a real difference to older people’s lives,” said Levy. “These last 60 years have provided the foundation for future work and growth.”
“We’re part of an iconic brand,” shared Wett. “I think our founders would be proud of the work we’ve accomplished. I’m proud of our standing in the community: how we give back and are a part of life in Canberra.”
The corporate knowledge the organisation has gathered since its inception will allow it to serve the growing number of aged people. Levy knows Goodwin is a part of one of the fastest growing industries in Australia, and that a key for success for the next 60 years will be flexibility, as well as understanding that technology will be central to most—if not all—changes and advancements in the future.
“Innovations in technology are already assisting care functions, taking strain off workers, easing record keeping for a mobile workforce, and helping make smarter homes that include 24/7 monitoring or emergency service in various forms,” she said. “It also helps seniors stay connected.”
Employer of Choice
Flexibility is key in other areas of the organisation, particularly employee retention. To maintain the quality of services, Goodwin attracts and retains staff that is passionate about providing this quality on a daily basis.
Long hours and an emotionally tough work environment might be seen as deterrents to working in aged care, so Levy and Wett understand the importance of employees balancing their work lives with home lives.
“We offer flexibility arrangements to our employees. Working mums can bring their kids in to have breakfast and then take them to school and come back to work. For our employees, it’s about making sure their home life is taken care of so they can be productive and enjoy the job they do here,” shared Levy.
A great company culture across all locations, a competitive hourly rate, as well as a concerted effort to promote workers from within have made Goodwin an employer of choice in the region, a title the leaders don’t take lightly.
“Our employees are just as important as our customers. Our open-door policy allows us to see the job from their perspective, meaning we can have a renewed appreciation for what our employees do, both for the organisation and our customers,” said Levy.
Goodwin has a few projects lined up for its facilities that will improve the services the organisation can provide, and serve an increasingly complex spectrum of customers, from “young active” retirees to the frail and palliative. The Wellness Centre, which Levy considers a value add, provides services above and beyond what is expected of aged care facilities in Australia.
“As is understood by its name, the facility focuses on wellness rather than illness or aging. The integrated model of care has a staff including a nurse practitioner and a general practitioner, which is not common of wellness centres. We’re hoping it prevents people from moving through the aging system prematurely and keeps our customers as independent as possible for as long as possible.”
This new facility will complement the services of Goodwin’s four villages, including Farrer Village, the first of Goodwin’s facilities. This facility is nearly 40 years old, and was more than ready for an upgrade.
“The redeveloped village will be designed to create an enabling environment, and a challenging blend of a homely scale within a multi-storey complex, that also sits within an established community,” said Wett. “It will make smarter use of a site locked to expansion by the surrounding suburb, more than doubling capacity so more locals can stay in their community as they age.”
The new energy-efficient homes will connect to outdoor recreation, a Lifestyle Clubhouse, and other high-quality care facilities. AMC Architecture is the lead on the project, after a successful redesign of Goodwin’s Monash Green facility, which won ACT Development of the Year and Best Retirement Living Development of the Year, nationally.
“Once constructed, the Farrer Village location will have architectural components that are adaptable to suit people
as their care needs increase,” said Levy. “Instead of moving someone who is in the end-of-life stage to a new home or room, these buildings will be able to accommodate that change.”
“From a board perspective, we were looking for innovative models of care, and how to make something that will last and adapt for another 40 years,” Wett said. “We want to model the physical building around care needs.”
“Being involved in the local community is a big part of why we’re so successful,” Levy said. “Our community involvement will never change.”
Just one of the many examples of how Goodwin gives back to the community—besides taking great care of its customers—is the organisation’s involvement with the Art and Alzheimer’s program with the National Gallery of Australia. It’s beneficial for dementia management, providing access to art which has the power to unlock memories and connections, and create a meaningful experience. They’ve also conducted a range of research with universities and partners on the benefits humour therapy and inhouse psychologists in nursing homes, treating depression. “We even have local animal owners bring pets in for pet therapy,” said Levy.
This is a perfect example of the type of company Goodwin Aged Care Services is: one whose concern and care for its customers and community is difficult to match.