Arcare is a leading provider of residential aged care and community care services to Victoria and Queensland. Since beginning their life in 1997 with a single 50-bed low care hostel, Arcare has grown significantly, expanding their residential services to include high care, high care extra service, dementia-specific care, as well as community care for people who require assistance to remain in their own home.
Matt Archdall, who recently joined Arcare as the Marking Manager, noted, “I was attracted to the organisation because they are progressive and they have a great reputation in the industry and the community at large.”
“There’s also lots of opportunity and scope for growth,” he adds.
Arcare was originally born as an offshoot of Australian Retirement Communities, the then-largest retirement village owner/operator in the country, and a very active developer. Because of that “lifestyle development heritage,” as Archdall calls it, Arcare has placed a unique focus on the quality of their facilities – of which they have 11 in Victoria for a total of 970 beds, and four in Queensland for a total of 436 beds.
They also have another eight facilities under construction and in the development pipeline – five in Victoria, the other three in Queensland. Those facilities are a broad mix of low care, high care, and dementia-specific care (called “sensitive care”) which is an area that they are developing further.
“We are very passionate about dementia care. We have recently appointed Daniella Greenwood, previously a lifestyle co-ordinator at our Greenhill facility, as the leader of our Dementia Strategy,” Archdall says. “She is a recognised expert in the field, having spoken at numerous dementia conferences around the country.”
According to Archdall, the company’s glowing reputation is a result of their staff. Throughout their many facilities, Arcare employs approximately 1900 people. “At a facility level, we’ve got great facility managers and strong teams who work in concert with the residents and their families to provide first class care,” he says.
Many of Arcare’s employees have been with the business for a long time, something Archdall credits to the corporate culture, and to the fact that they intentionally provide career paths. It’s not unusual for a staff member to start out as a carer and later move into a management role.
When Archdall first joined the company he toured all of the facilities, and was more than impressed by what he saw. “I’m just really amazed at the staff, their morale and they way they treat the residents,” he says. “It’s a really enjoyable place to be, and that’s the end result of everything the business has done over time, and the staff we have. That takes time, and it’s something Arcare has worked hard at building over the past 10 years. It’s the essence of the business, and something we are committed to replicate in all of our businesses.”
When hiring a staff member, Archdall says that nurses and clinical staff have to meet certain criteria, but beyond expertise they look for people with empathy and personality. “We employ people who have a good cultural fit with the business,” he says. “It’s hard to quantify, it’s a feeling you get to sense.”
In November of this year, Arcare is taking the innovate step of opening the Arcare Training Institute, with campuses in Melbourne and Brisbane. An initiative of Chief Operations Officer Kay Foster, the institute will cement the company’s commitment to quality staff and training. “We employ quite a large number of staff, and we’re looking to expand, so the institute will ensure we can continue to provide the level of care we are known for,” says Kay. “The institute will train people to meet the high standards of Arcare and give all parts of the business a pipeline of good staff coming through.” It also demonstrates Arcare’s commitment to providing career pathways for all staff.
The institute will be run by Melanie Mazzarolli, who started her career with Arcare as a casual RN in 2005 before moving into facility management and now training. “Working for Arcare has been a treasured experience which I hope others can also enjoy,” says Mel.
Staffing is a common industry challenge that Arcare has met head on. They have done the same thing when it comes to the challenge of keeping up with government regulations. “We have a really strong operational team with robust policies and procedures,” explains Arcare CEO Colin Singh. “We employ a quality manager who ensures everything we do is best practice and complies with legislation, which is good for residents as well.”
In addition, the Arcare management team is very experienced in the industry, and belong to the State and national industry peak bodies. “With former CEO Mal Humphries as the Victorian Vice President of LASA and a founding director of the new national Aged Care peak body, we’re really close to what’s going on in the industry. We know what the issues are, and we can feed the solutions back to where it really matters through our operational channels,” notes Colin.
Another major challenge in the aged care industry is contending with rising consumer expectations, and Arcare has met that issue head on as well. “The baby boomers are making decisions on behalf of their parents, and they have certain expectations,” Archdall admits. Addressing their high expectations goes back to having modern first class facilities and quality staff across all facets of the business. Their care staff are qualified, have empathy, and are able to relate to residents, clients and families.
“That means the care that we give will always meet the expectations of both the family and the resident, because the carer can relate to the person they are caring for,” Archdall says. He also says this philosophy applies across their entire operation – be it community care or residential care.
Arcare also meets expectations with the quality of their facilities, which are uniformly top-of-the-line. “Because we’ve got that lifestyle development heritage, we always make sure our facilities are second to none,” says Archdall. “We have a continuing refurbishment strategy so that when a facility needs a bit of a refresh, we do it. We have complete control and autonomy to make sure our facilities are the best in the industry, that they’re the benchmarks.”
“We position ourselves as five star aged care,” he adds. “That relates to the care we give, and when applicable, the facilities we provide it in.”
If Arcare has one final challenge, it would be contending with the growing demand for their services. They are meeting this challenge – which is also an opportunity – through expansion of both their facilities and their brand presence. In the not-too-distant future, Archdall says the organisation’s name will be nationally recognised for quality aged care. Currently, they are already among the top 10 most well known aged care providers in the country. “I want to replicate the industry recognition across the broader community,” he says.
The organisation will also be expanding their existing community care division; which is a positive for the communities they work in, as it gives their clients more options. “Arcare is about five star aged care,” Archdall concludes. “To us it doesn’t matter if it’s in a facility, or in someone’s home. What we do is offer those in need the best care available.”