Independence for all
The staff and volunteers at Adssi HomeLiving Australia are passionate about making a difference in people’s lives. For those living on the Central Coast of New South Wales who are frail aged, living with disability or dementia or caring for someone who is, they offer a wide range of practical home living services that promote choice, lifestyle and independence. As a company, they understand that the best option for accommodation is often for people to remain living in their own home – with all the familiarity of neighbourhood, friends and family.
The group first formed in 1987 as an association called Wyong Shire Aged and Disability Support Services Inc. In the years since, that organisation has gone through a number of changes and adaptations, before eventually evolving to a company limited by guarantee in 2006.
“We’ve been very proactive and aware, so that we can adapt to the industry changes as they come,” says Monique Webber, General Manager Operations of Adssi HomeLiving Australia. “The survival of the organisation depends on the value we create for the community, and we continue to grow and change along with the latest government reforms in order to maximize that value.”
Today, Adssi HomeLiving Australia offers 19 different programs through funding received from the Federal Government, the State Government, the Ministry of Health, and the Department of Veteran Affairs. They also provide a range of services on a fee-for-service basis.
“We are truly a ‘one-stop-shop’ for our clients. We offer services such as domestic assistance, personal care, transport, social support, occupational therapy, home modifications and maintenance, case management, a lawns and garden service as well as assistance in the weeks following a hospital stay. Our core strength is our ability to work with clients to understand their needs and to tailor a range of services to support them to stay living safely and independently at home.”
Long term employees
The team at Adssi HomeLiving Australia is professional and dedicated, and that dedication starts at the top – with Jenni Allan, the Chief Executive Officer, and Monique, the General Manager Operations. That dedication is shared by the seven departmental managers, who manage the operations or various services of the company. It’s also shared by the workers on the ground; the staff who knock on the doors of clients and render the actual services of the company.
Throughout the organisation, Monique describes the corporate culture as egalitarian. “We don’t believe in hierarchy – all of our staff are cogs in the same wheel, we’re all going in the same direction, and we’re all here for our clients. Not one of us is more important than another.”
“We also care about the professional development of our staff,” she continues. “We have a very generous learning and development policy to that end. For example, if we identify that you would like and it fits with your career path and position within the organisation, we’ll pay anything up to diploma level for extended education. If you decide to pursue a degree, we’ll also pay up to half for it, provided it follows the same guidelines.”
By investing in their employees, Adssi HomeLiving Australia fosters loyalty. Though companies in the aged care and disability sectors often have difficulty retaining staff, Monique reports that the majority of their employees are with the company to stay.
“I’m very happy to say that the industry trend is not the case here at all,” she states. “We have some very long term employees, which I think comes from our egalitarian and client-focused approach. We’re all here for the same thing, and we’re all really supportive of each other. Thanks to that, our staff turnover is incredibly low.”
Service that stands out
“Because of all these new competitors coming into the market, many big and even global corporations, it’s more important than ever to stand out,” says Monique. “That’s why we completely rebranded the organisation a year and a half a year ago, with the understanding that standing out from others in this new landscape would be crucial for the business’s survival.”
“That meant a fresh start in everything – new uniforms, new logo, all the brand essence changes,” she explains. “We also hired a marketing manager, who suggested we enter the HESTA awards in order to reach the public eye.”
The plan worked, and well above expectations. Adssi HomeLiving Australia was named as a finalist at the 2013 HESTA Aged Care Award in the Team Innovation category, where they were recognised for their work on their Safe Access and Eco Garden Project. That project – which was supported by a $44,000 grant by the Wyong Shire Council’s Community Matching Fund program – consisted of volunteers renovating 30 different gardens in the Toukley area, with the goal of making them safer and easier to manage for their owners.
“The project was great fun and made a real and tangible difference to the people whose gardens we made over,” recalls Monique. “And our result in the HESTA Aged Care Awards was absolutely amazing – it meant a whole lot to us. We’re not habitual award seekers – we’ve never been focused on that sort of thing. So when we ended up getting all the way to the finalist stage, we were just so surprised, honoured and humbled. We still are.”
Moving forward, Monique predicts that Adssi HomeLiving Australia will keep attracting that kind of industry attention, because they will keep going the extra mile for their clients – no matter what the ever-changing aged care and disability sectors have in store.
“We absolutely want to be here for another 25 years,” she says. “There are already so many people needing support, and there’s a rapidly aging population on the Central Coast, so there will only be more in the future. The lack of clarity around the government reforms make it more difficult to predict the future for organisations like ours, but I have no doubt we’ll still be here for another 25 years despite it all. No doubt.”