Young at Heart

Carinity

The organisation now offers a comprehensive range of community services throughout Queensland, including aged care, lifestyle (retirement living), education, communities and youth.

Chief Executive Officer Jon Campbell explains to us that the word Carinity is derived from ‘care’ and ‘affinity’ and represents what the organisation strives to provide to its clients every day – care and a sense of belonging. “For those in need of support, we provide communities of care, compassion and respect in which people feel secure and valued,” he explains, “a place where they feel they belong. By walking alongside those in need, we seek to ensure that no one is denied the chance to reach their full potential because of adverse circumstances.

“Our organisation offers caring services at 29 locations throughout Queensland, assisting over 11,500 people each year. After a great deal of consultation and consideration, we believe our new name Carinity well reflects both our mission and identity.”

The change was linked to a number of the reforms that have been taking place in the aged care sphere, the main activity of Carinity, and also the not-for-profit sector in general, says Jon. “This transformation is set to continue over the next five years as the federal government which regulates aged care introduces reforms that will increase competition and provide more choice for consumers.” In Queensland the state government is exiting aged care because, says Jon, it believes it cannot compete, while the regulation of not-for-profits is also under the microscope from the Commonwealth body responsible. “Overall, competition in all the sectors in which we are active is going to increase quite dramatically. The purpose of the change was to position our organisation so that we could differentiate ourselves from others in the sector and ensure we can compete on a sustainable basis.” So it was essential that the new brand should reflect the organisation’s Christian foundations as well as clarifying just what consumers could expect from it.

Carinity is somewhat unusual in that it is highly active at both ends of the spectrum – aged care and youth care, although Jon characterises its catchment area in another way: “The quality of a society is determined by how it looks after those that are most vulnerable, and that can apply to the aged but also to young people too,” he says. Once the organisation had decided it would remain in the latter sphere and expand its offer of “what is essentially ‘alternative’ education”, it was necessary to come up with a brand that would better reflect both sides of the spectrum.

Jon prefers not to dwell too much on the rights and wrongs of a society in which there is ‘competition’ over helping the vulnerable. “It’s the world in which we live. Governments have been going down the economic rationalist path now for decades and we have come to the conclusion that that will not change.” There are even benefits to be had – providers are obliged to operate as lean and efficiently as possible, for example. However, he points out there is not the sort of all-out competition as there is in the private sector. “There is still very much a collegiality within the not-for-profit industry and I don’t see that changing.”

Hence the new identity. The logo, by the way, is intended to show five ‘hands’ reaching out – the five branches of Carinity’s activities (aged care, lifestyle, youth, education and communities) – with a Christian cross superimposed. Carinity, says Jon, must gear itself up for what he terms a “tsunami of demographic change in terms of the number of people over the age of 65.” Indeed, 25 per cent of Australia’s population will be of pensionable age by 2050, compared with today’s 13 per cent. Within the five branches, Carinity has identified four key areas for expansion: aged care itself, retirement living, education and chaplaincy (to hospitals, both public and private, a service for which demand is growing exponentially).

There are three developments underway at present to supplement the aged care services – one on the Gold Coast, one in Toowoomba and another in Townsville, giving the organisation quite a geographical – as well as cultural and community – reach and diversity. “The plan is to grow our services out into the regions,” says Jon, from its historical Brisbane base. “We are an outreach of the Baptist church which is very strong in Queensland and we want to develop our services so that over the next ten years we have Carinity services in each of the major regional centres throughout the state.”

However, Carinity is non-denominational in the sense that there is no proselytising and no requirement for those in its care to be Baptist, although Jon points out that as people come closer to the end of their life they frequently turn towards some form of spirituality – religious or otherwise – to help themselves to cope. “We provide services to people regardless of religion, gender, life choice or anything else. But with the change of identity we wanted to make that more clear.”

Plans are also in hand to expand the organisation’s educational sector. Carinity has two schools at present, one in Brisbane and the other in Hervey Bay; they cater for children who are disadvantaged, have been marginalised or abused, or who cannot for some reason fit into the state system. “Over the next three years we want to establish two more schools and double that again in the succeeding five years so we have eight of these schools by 2021,” shares Jon.

This is an ambitious plan, he concedes, “but we will do our best to achieve it because there is certainly the demand for it. Some three to five per cent of the student population are disengaged and struggling in the mainstream school programmes. Our schools are designed to help them.” Many of those now in Carinity schools have problems at home: witnessing or being involved in a high level of drug and/or alcohol abuse; many of them come from broken homes; and “many of them have experienced or witness domestic violence. But we also have some kids who for whatever reason just don’t fit in at local schools – bright enough in themselves but perhaps bullied or ostracised.” Jon cites the case of a girl at the Hervey Bay school who was able to say after two months that this was the first time she had ever been accepted as who she is.

In aged care too, Carinity is expanding across Queensland. The model, according to Jon, is for co-location of services to provide for aged care and retirement living on the same site and to arrange for community services to be available to provide for a relatively seamless transition through the stages of care needed as a person becomes more frail. “It is part of our philosophy that we want to have that continuity of care. We want to travel with the person through the whole of their life.” Carinity believes in a more holistic approach than many of its peers, as the sector tends to break up the different provisions.

Activity is intense in this sector too, the organisation having recently acquired Kepnock Grove aged care centre in Bundaberg and John Cani in Mount Morgan in addition to its planned additions across the state. The expansion plans and new name are indicative of “the dynamic evolution of the organisation” over the past few years. “Our organisation’s positive reputation in the not-for-profit industry is based on its Christian mission and values which remain firm and a long history of listening to customers’ needs and meeting their expectations,” says Jon.

“Our clients throughout the state can be assured that under the new name Carinity, our caring staff will continue to provide the same high quality compassionate services and dedicated support, making a real difference to those in need.”

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January 18, 2018, 8:41 AM AEDT

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