Faith-Based Services for the Elderly

Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care

Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care-Sydney is leading the way when it comes to providing services which treat the mind and body with respect, sensitivity and dignity, while a Christian world-view informs an appreciation of the supreme value of every human being.

From the construction of its first site, Kings Langley Village, in the early 1960s, Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care has expanded its locations to include modern, spacious, state of the art facilities in Wahroonga and Hornsby on Sydney’s North Shore. Located near the hub of Blacktown in Sydney’s West, Kings Langley Village provides active retirees and persons in need of care with top-quality accommodations and a range of options and services to meet their needs.

In addition to offering both low care and high care accommodation, the site has independent living apartments, a choice of one or two-bedroom units ranging in price from budget accommodation through to mid-market, available carports if required, and a great deal more, all conveniently located near bus routes, suburban rail links, and excellent medical and specialist care serviced by Blacktown Hospital and the Kings Langley Shopping Centre.

“We have committed ourselves to $11 to $12 million over the next two and a half years,” says Brian Swanepoel, Chief Executive Officer, of the funds the organisation is investing in the rebuilding, renovation, and new construction at Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care sites, which will also see the $4.5 million construction of 20 new units for low-income persons at Kings Langley. At present the site – a comprehensive 78 bed residential care facility which includes 16 self-care units (apartments) integrated into the hostel and nursing home – remains an ideal location for retirees and frail aged men and women who receive the highest degree of care, compassion and support in their latter years.

Since he took over as CEO of the organisation in the summer of 2008, Mr Swanepoel – whose extensive experience includes Information Technology management and designing and implementing software – has helped initiate a number of forward-looking changes which are benefitting the organisation, residents, and staff. As with any endeavour, changes take time, and he says a number of them are now coming to fruition. “The organisation had a good culture, but we have worked to make it more Christian-focused, and being Christian-focused automatically means more care-focused,” he says. “In my opinion, if you have a Christian focus on things, it should be more a caring focus.”

Care with Love and Dignity

At Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care, the organisation is committed to providing sensitive, appropriate, and competent care for seniors through a holistic approach, which ensures a continuum of care over time. To ensure all locations of the organisation provide the same high degree of care, Mr Swanepoel appointed key personnel to standardise documentation, policies, procedures, audits, and more, and made it a point to use the same trainer to work with staff to ensure consistency. “If we want a brand, the brand must be consistent wherever you are. For me, that was important,” he says of the challenge.

Known for its caring staff, updated facilities and quality service, Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care has earned a reputation in many areas which has given it a significant edge in a competitive market. To maintain a high degree of service, new hires are asked to respond to a series of questions to ensure they are a proper fit with the philosophy of the Seventh-day Adventists. “You can teach people skills, but you can’t teach them to care, you can’t teach them to have empathy – that’s in them, and the way they were brought up. That’s what we try to determine.”

At Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care, residents have the security of knowing that there is always someone there to help with professional care, any time of the day or night. The Wahroonga Village location – which comprises Self-care Apartments and Villas, the Elizabeth Lodge Hostel, and the Esther Somerville Nursing Home – presents residents with a wide range of care options and well-designed retirement accommodations.

Providing affordable accommodation for pensioners and those with limited means, Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care also has the Hornsby Apartments, located on a quiet, leafy street less than a kilometre west of Hornsby Railway Station and bus interchange, the Westfield Shopping Centre, and the Hornsby shops. Comprising Azalea Court and Camellia Court, these adjoining apartment blocks offer a variety of self-care units which range from bed sits to single bedroom units with an ensuite bathroom, sitting room and kitchen.

Located in Sydney’s West, the Kings Langley Village is able to provide elderly persons with a hostel / nursing home facility, dementia care, and self-care units and villas.

Choosing a Healthy Lifestyle

When it comes to retirement living, people choose Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care for a variety of reasons, ranging from the quality of services that comes with being a faith-based organisation to social aspects, including diet. Open to persons of all religious denominations – in fact, over half of residents are not Seventh-day Adventists – many are choosing the Adventist lifestyle. As identified in the book of Leviticus, Seventh-day Adventists do not consume pork, with many avoiding meat altogether for health reasons. Additionally, alcohol and tobacco are prohibited, which many people prefer as they get older.

“The Adventist lifestyle – which is no smoking, no drinking, vegetarianism, and that type of thing – has become quite attractive in the past few years,” comments Mr Swanepoel. “Quite a few people are keen on that lifestyle, because our food is vegetarian; that is one of the reasons people come here. The more important reason is the level of care that we give.”

With a caring, compassionate and highly trained staff of about 210 individuals across all locations, residents know they are in good hands. Transitioning from a house to village life often brings a tremendous sense of relief. No more worries about maintenance or major household repairs, and the freedom to come and go as you please, knowing that someone else is looking after your place in your absence. There is also the security that comes with knowing caring, professional care is available 24/7 if required, and the knowledge that you are not going to be a burden to other members of the family. Instead of assuming “what will happen next,” life in a Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care facility plans and provides for every stage, what the organisation like to call “responsible retirement.”

Led by values which include respect, support and care for residents, Christlikeness in every communication, and appreciation for all who serve the needs of residents, staff at Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care are committed to helping all. To self-care residents, the organisation provides attractive, safe housing in a friendly, supportive, Christian environment. To hostel residents, staff creates a family setting with full support and nurturing for physical, emotional and spiritual needs, and encourages independence in personal choices for daily living both inside and outside the hostel. And to nursing home residents, Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care provides physical, emotional and spiritual nurturing in a home-like environment, encouraging independence for as long as possible to maintain a sense of dignity for each resident.

Along with support for residents, families benefit from open and honest communication and emotional support, while the standards and traditions of Adventist compassion for the sick and elderly are maintained in an environment which is safe, kind, compassionate, and structured to encourage personal growth.

Hosting International Tours

As a measure of the organisation’s success, Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care frequently receives visitors from other countries who are interested in learning how its systems work. Recently the organisation hosted a tour of 20 persons from South Korea, where many families still look after the elderly and small towns are only now setting up aged care facilities. “They come and look at our facilities,” says Mr Swanepoel of the groups, which also come from China and Japan and include students studying aged care, university lecturers, doctors, physiotherapists, registered nurses, and other CEOs. “They are interested in how we do our medication rounds, especially something that is fairly standard in Australia, care plans and so forth.”

With such a strong mission of caring and the values and principles to back it up, it is no wonder Seventh-day Adventist Aged Care is looked upon as an example of quality Australian aged care.

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January 18, 2018, 8:55 AM AEDT

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