The Future of Aged Care

Menarock

The Menarock group began around six years ago with Murrayvale, its first aged care facility in Moama, a fifty bed facility for aged residents with high care requirements. The Menarock Aged Care Services Group now has four high care facilities and two low care facilities averaging around 350 beds with roughly 360 staff members. Director Craig Holland explains, “Basically the goal was to acquire a new facility each year after opening up Emmavale in Lower Templestowe, then Salisbury House in Upper Beaconsfield, Willowbrae in Templestowe, Essendon Aged Care in Essendon, and lastly Rosehill Aged Care in Highett. My business partner, Andrew Seamer and myself both have extensive experience with major accounting and financial firms and Andrew has also been involved with another aged care organisation in the past.”

The company strategy has been to acquire existing facilities and refurbish them as needed to bring them up to its high standards. “From experience, it takes us approximately a 6 to 12 months to refurbish a facility, to give it a makeover and to introduce more modern equipment,” says Craig. “Eventually we would like to get to possibly nine to ten facilities in total. Our strategy on nine to ten facilities is that it allows us to be hands on owners which I think is important. It also helps us to manage our cost structure but not introduce an extra layer of overhead into the business. This allows us to put more money back into the facilities for ongoing improvements.”

When Menarock explores the acquisition of a new facility, it spends time observing existing practices before trying to make any changes to the work culture and processes. “We have never walked into a facility and made sweeping changes by instilling our cultural values on that facility. We strive to improve on their existing processes until we can help them make an informed decision for the best.”

Menarock prides itself on offering superior service with high calibre staff. Meticulous processes have been put into place to make the organisation one of the leaders in its industry. “At each of our facilities, we have a Division One Nurse as Facility Manager who has to ensure that the facility meets all 44 accreditation standards. We are culturally diverse as well in that staff and residents both come from many different backgrounds. I think the industry as a whole is quite diverse, which makes it interesting of course, and we support and involve all cultural backgrounds.”

Keeping the residents actively involved in the Menarock community requires the employ of some energetic “Activities Ladies” as Craig was happy to explain. These ladies develop a full year programme for residents, with activities every day to stimulate the mind, body and soul. From arts and crafts, bus trips, shopping excursions, reading and games to the pet therapy programme, the Activities Ladies keep the facility going and the residents active. At our recent Christmas party for residents, “We’ve had a variety of entertainers, from singers to piano players… the place was hopping and everyone had a fantastic time. The feedback from the family members was just incredible!”

While the residents are busily keeping up with the times and enjoying themselves, our staff are central to everything we do. “Both Andrew and I are acutely aware of the need for high levels of staff engagement for a variety of reasons; one being, if you have staff that are highly engaged and motivated, it will of course reflect in the quality of care they provide. A lot of it is based on the simple things.” Having multiple facilities has allowed staff to take on diverse responsibilities, providing them with further additions to their skill base. “This is just one thing we try to do in terms of career progression for our staff,” Craig explains. “At the higher levels we also have Facility Manager monthly meetings so they can share their ideas on continuous improvement and best practices.”

Staff members are encouraged to take advantage of opportunities to acquire skills and improve their education. “If there are any openings that may come available in any of our facilities, staff can apply and be relocated if they qualify. We also have a once a year appraisal programme where we provide feedback to each of our staff regarding their performance. I think it is encouraging, being involved in a group that has taken on things at a reasonable pace, in a relatively short period of time but has become so successful.”

Craig believes that technology will likely change some aspects of aged care over the next five to ten years. “When someone needs medical attention, video technology like Skype etc. would make things so much easier,” he explains. “With so many challenges involving the ageing population, it is sometimes difficult to get a resident to the doctor or the doctor to a facility. From an industry perspective in Australia, it would be amazing to be able to have a resident with an attending nurse and have them do the consult through video which would help alleviate the stress of physical movement.” The technology exists and the service, Craig believes, must surely follow.

When a resident is at the end stages of life, the compassion and sensitivity required to help residents and their families cope with stress and grief is extraordinary. “We remain open and accommodating to the families and loved ones of those experiencing this fragile stage of life. We have residents who have lost their husbands or wives after more than seventy years being together and we just want them to come in to be with us for a coffee or to relax or talk to someone. They can come in on Respite for as long as they would need as that loss of companionship is just devastating.”

While Craig and Andrew are the joint owners of Menarock Aged Care Services, they are both extremely hands-on and do a lot of physical as well as mental and emotional work at each of the Menarock facilities, doing everything from balancing the financial records to strapping on overalls and painting. Working in this environment has certainly helped in giving both Andrew’s and Craig’s family lives more value and appreciation. They both have young children who are learning the importance of family, understanding and hard work. “In terms of how we differentiate ourselves from the many others out there, Andrew and I are young and have young families that get involved in the day to day of the business.”

As Menarock Aged Care Services has grown, it is now seeing the benefits of being part of a larger organisation – the organisation now enjoys greater buying power and an increased presence in the communities it serves, whilst still managing to maintain its impressive quality of care and home-like feel. As Craig says, “We’ve got fresh ideas and have the number of people and processes in place to ensure that we can and will provide the best possible care to our residents.”

Stem Cells

The scientific study of stem cells has existed for a long time and has already contributed greatly to modern medicine. As scientific inquiry continues to advance and as discoveries gain more traction and acceptance in the scientific and medical communities, the true breadth and potential of this area of study can start to be realized.

October 17, 2017, 9:10 AM AEDT

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