The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety confronted Australia’s aged care sector – and the general public – with some uncomfortable truths about how our elderly population is treated. For some, the recommendations and reforms laid out by the commissioners read like an indictment of past attitudes and shortcomings.
For many on the front line of the industry, the final report was a welcome challenge. “The aged care sector does need to change,” says Doreen Power, CEO of Lyndoch Living. “The sector is facing many challenges, but there are some great providers making great changes, and I think we need to take the focus away from the bad and start developing the good.”
A former nurse and midwife, Doreen has dedicated her life to looking after others. “I really love what I do because I love making a difference in people’s lives,” she shares. “But I’ve always believed that the perception of aged care needs to change. We’ve got to turn it around, and I believe we’re doing it here at Lyndoch.”
When she arrived at Lyndoch Living, one of Victoria’s premier aged care and in-home service providers, Doreen found herself at the foot of a mountain of opportunity. “It was established, there was a strong foundation there for me to move things forward,” she recalls.
In Lyndoch, Doreen saw the chance to realise her vision of aged care existing harmoniously with retirement living and community services. “It was really about moving from that reputation of an old people’s home to a place where people can come and live, and live well,” she says.
“It was all right there in the name, Lyndoch Living. I wanted it to become inspirational, authentic and inviting, so I started by looking at developing the workforce and upgrading the facilities.” One of the workforce development strategies was to attract more young people to the aged care sector.
“The first step was we opened a cafe and we started to get young people enquiring about jobs,” Doreen remembers. The cafe soon became a pathway for up-and-coming care workers looking to kickstart their careers.
The aged care sector does need to change … we’ve got to turn it around, and i believe we’re doing it here at lyndoch.
“Next, we started developing and providing opportunities for our existing team. We put in place a program for young team members to explore career pathways with us, and a support and growth program for everyone.”
Today, these programs continue to inspire the more than 500-strong Lyndoch team. “I have an open door policy so the team can feel free to come to me for guidance, or advice,” Doreen says.
“It’s about looking after our team as well as our residents. We value our team, we invest in them and we provide them with many opportunities. We all work together to do what we do.” Similarly, the Lyndoch facility itself was given a face lift in keeping with the vision of a warm, living community. It’s important to provide choice to residents,” she stresses.
“Traditionally, you have your residential aged care building, and that’s it. We now have retirement living, we have community services, so we’re really moving away from aged care as a silo structure.”
According to Doreen, someone can come to Lyndoch and live the life they want to live, and be assisted in doing so. “That way, they can have a healthier and much more meaningful way of living.”
It’s all a part of the master plan for Lyndoch Living; a visionary blueprint that saw Doreen named Aged Care CEO of the Year in 2019. “Much of what we’ve introduced or are going to introduce can be found in the Royal Commission’s recommendations,” she points out.
Large corridors, easy wayfinding and bright, airy areas for family gatherings are just a few of the ways Lyndoch has opened up to its community. “We’re now looking at smaller household models for our aged care facility,” she adds.
“And thanks to our shared value partnership with Waltanna Farms, we can ensure our residents are eating well in addition to living well through our food innovation program, which provides our residents with good, healthy food.”
As was highlighted by the Royal Commission, aged care often falls by the wayside. Lyndoch Living is providing its residents with a home they can be proud of, one that’s welcoming to friends and family. “I think we’re very privileged to be looking after our residents,” Doreen says.
“We look at their needs, beyond medical nursing care and through the master plan we’re building choice. It’s exciting for me because we have the opportunity to take a role in leading where the industry is going.”
In a sector so often undervalued, she believes dramatic change is just around the corner. “We’ve got to improve what we’re doing and we’ve got to promote what we’re doing well,” Doreen insists. In Lyndoch’s case, that change starts simply with living.
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