Built by our Family to Support Yours


For over 20 years, Norsan Pty Ltd has provided support and care to countless elderly persons in Victoria. A family-owned organisation that operates two aged care facilities, Norsan remains committed to maintaining a comfortable, supportive, homelike environment at each of its sites to encourage the continuation of their residents’ lifestyles.

When Norman and Sandy Willoughby set up Norsan Pty Ltd in 1988, they made a commitment to run their homes based on family values, taking a hands-on approach in order to provide the best possible care and support to residents and their families. While the industry has evolved over the last 30 years, Norsan, which manages and operates Park Lane Croydon Residential Aged Care and Willowbrae Melton Residential Aged Care, has remained true to these values. With brothers Brad and Cameron Willoughby at the helm, Norsan has grown tremendously. Together, they have improved Norsan’s care and service delivery and successfully catered to the more complex needs of today’s elderly. They also have a forward-looking plan to ensure that Norsan continues to play a pivotal role in the next chapter of their residents’ lives.

Cameron invited me to visit one of his facilities and walking around Park Lane Residential Aged Care in Croydon, I had the sense that everything is where it is meant to be. The facility is clean and bright but not the least bit sterile or cold. It is surrounded by beautiful gardens and a pathway overlooking the neighbouring nature reserve. Go around one corner and you will find a resident enjoying the view; turn the next and you will see another fixing up her jigsaw puzzle. Residents seem perfectly at ease and comfortable. Park Lane reminds me of a warm and welcoming home.

Cameron, who stops to say hello to every resident he meets, acknowledges that for the most part, people’s perception of aged care is outdated. “A lot of people’s perception of aged care was what it was 20 to 30 years ago and that might be six beds to a room, brown, brick, dark, poorly-lit; it’s not like that now.”

He adds that public awareness is something that needs to be worked on as an industry because the vast majority of aged care facilities are doing a fantastic job. The message that needs to be better advocated is that moving into a facility is a lifestyle choice; it is not the “end of the road.”

With that in mind, the team at Norsan decided that there needed to be real focus on the organisation’s policies and procedures. Norsan’s Residential Aged Care Facilities may be running at almost full capacity but instead of resting on their laurels, Cameron and Brad saw the need to review previous policies and take an in-depth look at their values – P.R.I.D.E (Privacy, Respect, Individuality/Independence, Dignity and Enjoyment/Encouragement), in order to better meet the increasing and changing needs of their current and future residents.

“We want to be recognised by our community as a provider of exceptional care and service. So if we can maintain extremely high levels of care and service, then that will set us apart from others.”

Cameron says that one of the ways to maintain this high level of care is by keeping communication channels open. “We’re a family organisation and we run the organisation based on family values. We’re all very approachable from a management level, both from residents and staff.” This open door policy ties in with Cameron’s equation – “happy staff equals happy residents; happy residents equal happy staff, which makes my job much easier!” It is this unwavering commitment to ensuring that all issues are heard and responded to in a timely fashion that has resulted in Norsan being a truly innovative and forward-thinking organisation.

In August of this year, Norsan made a significant change in its processes by moving from paper-based medication charts to using iPads for medication management. The bespoke software aims to reduce signature omissions and medication incidents. Many homes already have electronic medication administration systems (eMAS) and use portable computers to record information that is later synchronised with the pharmacy’s records. But Park Lane is the first home in Australia to adopt the eMAS using iPads and more importantly, its updates are live and instantaneous.

The system works on wireless computing and connectivity to the internet, which allows live data to be relayed between the pharmacy and the residence. The adoption of the eMAS has no doubt increased efficiency and cut out a number of human errors. In addition, audits around reports and medication management signature admissions can be generated with a few easy key strokes. In the past, these audits, which were done manually, were a laborious process as staff had to collect the necessary information and then pass it on to the quality management team to tabulate and analyse. Today, key staff have all the information that they need at their fingertips.

This move has had a two-fold effect. For one, the software has increased compliance as well as improved medical regimes and efficiencies. Unlike many other industries, the aged care sector is highly regulated and the software has enabled Norsan to improve its already advanced internal quality systems without making the lives of their staff more difficult.

And that is the second effect – the team has effectively reduced the burden on its employees. Hence, it is not surprising that there has been genuine excitement amongst the carers and nurses, who have adapted well to the change. Whilst this system has directly benefitted existing staff, it has also added to Norsan’s credibility as an employer of choice as today’s workforce are drawn to companies that embrace modern technology.

Norsan may have a waiting list of potential employees now, but Cameron foresees a challenge on the horizon with filling rosters. The team has been working closely with a number of organisations including Swinburne University and Phillips Institute to facilitate student placements. In doing so, Norsan is recognised as a training base and has a network of students to tap into.

Not all organisations have the luxury of a waiting list of employees, however, and Cameron encourages more young people to consider aged care as a career choice. “It’s a wonderful career path for young people to come into aged care. Someone can start as a PCA (personal care attendant), as a carer straight out of school, work a few years, do their nursing, become an RN (registered nurse), specialise in various areas, go into quality or end up managing a facility or multiple facilities. There are not too many career paths like that for young people. It’s a sector that’s looking for people in the future.”

Cameron adds that to attract the next generation of workers, there is a need to build recognition that Norsan is a provider of exceptional care and one area that the team is looking to improve is that of pain management. To this end, the company recently purchased a state-of-the-art spa bath for the Park Lane residents and will use this to enhance its palliative care programme. The bath comes with a tracking system installed on the ceiling of the bathroom, developed to help residents who are not physically able or mobile to make their way into and out of the bath. Together with sensory stimulants like music and aromatherapy, Norsan hopes the spa bath will lead to an increased sense of wellbeing.

Residents who have already tried the bath give it glowing reviews. They say that time spent in the bath has resulted in less pain and greater mobility.

Park Lane is also one of two facilities nominated as a pilot site to trial an ongoing biography program. Training facilities provided by Park Lane have allowed for community volunteers from The Biography Program to engage in 37 hours of training over 8 weeks under the direction of specialists in the fields of aged care, cultural diversity, spirituality, communication, loss and grief and all practical aspects of the biography process. At the end of their training, these volunteers will then embark on a journey to meet and speak with residents in facilities across the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. They will put together individual biographies for the residents, giving them voice and helping them to feel affirmed, valued and celebrated.

Everyone has a story to tell, and Cameron believes that this programme will have many therapeutic benefits. In addition, the families of the residents will also reap the advantages of the biography project. “I think it will have a lot of benefits,” he says. “It will help with communication and it will help young people connect with their grandparents or great grandparents.”

With the aim of increasing wellbeing, Cameron and his team have worked hard to create synergies between the diversional therapy and clinical staff. Their efforts have paid off. The residents I spoke to at Park Lane were unanimous in saying that they were comfortable there and that there was no other place they would rather be.

Norsan has no intentions of stopping there. Moving forward, the organisation will continue to work hard to improve its services and facilities because it is evident that aged care facilities are going to be driven by the wants and needs of not only the residents but also of their families. Hence, facilities will need to provide hotel-style accommodation encompassing a full range of care and lifestyle services if they want to remain competitive and continue to meet the needs of their clients.

For the most part, aged care providers in Australia understand the importance of adapting to changing demands and Cameron says that this is why it is important to give the sector a pat on the back. While he understands that many people would opt to stay at home for longer, he encourages them to take the time to visit a few homes before making a decision because much has changed in the sector. He believes that what you will find today are homes of a much higher standard. In-home care has become a viable alternative but with improved facilities and better wellness programs, moving into Residential Aged Care provides far more than just comfortable accommodation; it also delivers a high level of social connectivity and care.

“Considering a Residential Aged Care Facility is a lot like buying a home, in my opinion. People need to go out and have a look, talk to residents and staff, see what’s going on with their own eyes. Then they’ll realise what a terrific job the vast majority of aged care facilities are doing and the level of care that they’re providing.”

The industry today presents a number of challenges, but Cameron is confident that as long as Norsan continues to listen to its staff, residents and families while adhering to its vision and values, it will remain a trusted and well-respected provider in the community.

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October 20, 2018, 10:31 AM AEDT

Today 10/20 100%
Mostly cloudy. Periods of rain this morning. High 16C. Winds SSW at 15 to 30 km/h. Chance of rain 100%. Rainfall near 6mm.


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