As people age, there is no reason they should lose their right to dignity and independence. Even if they require 24-hour care, they should still enjoy a high quality of life in a warm, friendly and caring environment – that’s the BlueCross philosophy. And whether care is needed at a client’s home or at one of their residences, they are there to help – that’s the BlueCross advantage.
Since 1993, BlueCross has been providing care and support to the aged care sector and community. Their suite of services offers people the unique ability to navigate effortlessly across the aged care continuum, from home care to respite care to residential care and anything in between. They provide streamlined support with flexibility and responsiveness to ensure that as a client’s care needs change, their transition is seamless.
“The BlueCross advantage is we can provide services to anyone who requires care, whether it’s residential or care at home,” says Carol Allen, CEO. “If they live in and around Melbourne, we can care for them.”
Today, BlueCross accommodates over 1300 clients in their 21 residencies across Victoria, and their Care at Home program supports 1500 more.
Throughout their organisation, BlueCross employs approximately 1700 staff. According to Managing Director David Eccles, the quality of those people is another one of the company’s advantages. “Our business operates around people and unless you have high quality people who enjoy and take pride in what they do, you’re never going to provide the level of service you want.”
“We believe our staff are our most important resource,” adds Allen. As CEO, one of her key missions has been to look at the organisation’s corporate culture.
“When I joined the company, we decided we wanted to change the way that staff thought about working in aged care,” she recalls. “We wanted them to want to work here, and enjoy what they were doing, and see they were valuable in the service they provide.”
To implement this cultural change, BlueCross looked to the STARFish principles – an approach to corporate culture based on the ‘FISH! Philosophy,’ which originated in the Seattle fish market but applies to all industries.
Those principles help set BlueCross apart from a staff engagement perspective – which also benefits clients, because an engaged staff delivers a superior level of care for everyone.
The STARFish approach consists of four principles. The first is “Be There,” which means being emotionally present for clients, which is a sign of respect that improves communication and strengthens relationships. The second principle is “Have fun” which encourages staff to be enthusiastic, creative and have fun – a mindset they can bring to everything they do. The third is “Make Their Day,” which means finding simple ways to serve or delight residents and clients in a memorable way.
“All of our staff are asked to make somebody’s day every day,” Allen explains. “We have lots of lovely stories about how the staff has gone out of their way to do that.”
As part of that ‘Make Their Day’ STARFish principle, BlueCross also hosts many activities, such as birthday celebrations, Melbourne Cup day, and more. “We want people to have something to look forward to,” Allen says. “We want them to be engaged, to look at what they can do rather than what they can’t do. When they come into any of the BlueCross residences we want them to see it’s just another stage of their life which they can enjoy and all have fun.”
Fourth and finally, there is the “Choose Your Attitude” principle, which asks staff to take responsibility for how they respond to their daily activities. That principle – along with the other three – is embraced across the entire BlueCross organisation, from the Directors all the way down to the maintenance staff. “Everyone is part of how we at BlueCross can make a positive difference,” Allen says.
To help foster those principles – and to reward staff for their service excellence – BlueCross hosts annual STARFish awards. Residents and staff can nominate staff members for those awards, and the Employee of the Year is recognised.
“We place a great deal of effort into acknowledging our staff,” Eccles adds. “We share our success with them.”
Moving forward, BlueCross intends to continue down the path of growth. “From a strategic point of view, BlueCross is very well positioned to take advantage of any opportunities that come up in the future,” Eccles says.
“We’ve got a strong view on our growth and we’re making sure that we’re able to manage it successfully. We’ve put a lot of time into developing the capabilities of our organisation and we intend to double our size in three to five years.”
Several of their existing sites are currently undergoing refurbishments and expansions, and roughly 600 beds are in development among three new aged care residences. The most important thing, Allen adds, is that they continue to service the residents and clients to the best of their ability – whether they are in a BlueCross residence or their own homes. “Our by-line is ‘Enriching lives,’” she says. “We do believe we enrich the lives of our residents and our families. Aged care is a fabulous place to be, and you can make such a difference to people’s lives and that’s what makes it all worthwhile.”