A caring community.
Aged Care Deloraine is an organisation dedicated to servicing the aged community in the beautiful Meander Valley of Northern Tasmania. The group is comprised of two modern facilities, each offering home-like accommodation, and each set in “tranquil surroundings” – close to local facilities including doctors’ offices, shopping centres and public transport. Within all facilities, Aged Care Deloraine provides a resident-focused approach that delivers the highest standard of care and quality of life.
“Our goal is to support the needs of individuals and provide high quality residential accommodation to the community,” says Cliff Partridge, CEO. “We achieve that goal every day, and we’re always looking at how to achieve it more.”
Aged Care Deloraine is made up of two organisations – one called Aged Care Deloraine and the other St Mark’s Homes. The two operations are totally integrated, with identical constitutions, community members, and a shared board of directors. Cliff began his career at the company with St Mark’s 10 years ago, and moved into the combined CEO role when the two groups merged.
“It’s a great, caring community to live within,” Cliff says, explaining what drew him to the job and then what caused him to stay around so long. “They give you a lot of support.”
Today, Aged Care Deloraine offers three levels of care – independent living units, low care and high care residential. Respite is available at all levels. This three-tiered approach enables the organisation to offer a continuum of care, and meets the needs of the aged community in MeanderValley at every level.
That community focus, Cliff explains, is what sets the organisation apart. Because they were created by the community, they excel at fulfilling community needs and expectations, and the community looks to them as their “first provider.”
Proactive and progressive
According to Cliff, Aged Care Deloraine puts a lot of time and effort into making sure the organisation is at the forefront of the aged care industry. They were one of the first to make the adjustment to single bedrooms, for instance. They are also proactive at keeping up with technological development, and were among the earliest to adopt iCare software, which computerised the documentation of care to their residents.
When it comes to staff, the organisation also prides itself on taking a progressive approach. Their multi-disciplinary professional team – which numbers approximately 90 people – is offered training and opportunities for advancement, and new graduate nurses make up a large portion of the workforce. Cliff describes those new recruits as “bright, vital, and bringing a fresh approach.”
“We probably have more staff per resident than most other nursing homes,” he adds. “And any surplus we have is put back into providing services for our residents.”
“It’s a combination of our systems as well as people that make our service delivery what it is.”
When bringing on new caregivers – whether they are fresh out of school or industry veterans – Cliff says there are certain personal qualities that Aged Care Deloraine values above all else.
“The person has to be enthusiastic, outgoing, and they have to be able to work with other people,” he says. “Most importantly, they have to have an affinity for the people the elderly, for the people they are caring for.”
Cliff says that close relationships often develop between the staff and their residents. They tend to get closely involved, he explains, because of their shared ties to the community. Many staff members have parents, aunts, uncles and even grandparents receiving care in their facilities – so they literally treat them like family.
“There are people that are here that have known me since I was a boy,” Cliff says. “And that applies to many of our staff. It brings a different respect, and a unique understanding of each other’s needs.”
Also because of their close ties to the community, Aged Care Deloraine fosters strong relationships with all resident’s family members – especially the ones that aren’t staff.
“We put a high priority on families,” Cliff says. “They need to know that they’ve provided a secure and loving environment for their family member. People often feel guilty about mom or dad having to move into residential care. We’re endeavouring to break that mentality by supporting the families.”
Moving forward, Aged Care Deloraine aims to keep improving their service to the community. They are doing that by building new facilities, and by keeping up-to-date with the latest advancements in aged care technology.
At the moment, for example, the organisation is developing new living units that are independent from their residential care. Cliff describes those units as “basically a small house,” and says they are easily converted to disabled living spaces, and are accessible to in-home carers. The goal is for residents to move in when they are in their 50s or 60s. That way, they can plan for their future “while they are still in control of their own destiny.”
In general, giving residents an active role in their own care is a major priority for Aged Care Deloraine. “That’s a very difficult mindset change in our industry,” Cliff says. “It’s something that’s going to be enabled by smart technology, which we are pursuing.”
Currently, they are working with the Human Interface Technology Laboratory Australia (HITLab AU) to develop technology to monitor the physical movements of residents. The proposed technology will do things like “predict when someone’s going to have a fall,” and then send an automated warning out to help stop the fall before it happens.
“That’s the level of technology that we really need if we’re going to start improving our productivity and give control of care back to our residents,” Cliff says. “That’s a real challenge, because you need really smart people to develop the software and really high level computers to manage it. But it’s where we’re going.”
At the end of the day, Cliff concludes, the goal of Aged Care Deloraine is to provide a quality service to their community. He believes they are currently doing that, and says they will always strive to upgrade their facilities, update their technology, and strengthen their staff – whatever it takes to serve the community better.