Located in the picturesque Hasting Valley town of Wauchope, Bundaleer Gardens Village is a retirement village and hostel that offers a quiet, friendly and relaxed lifestyle unlike any other. The village – which overlooks farmland and forest, and is framed by the magnificent Bago mountain ranges – offers three styles of accommodation: self care, hostel care, and nursing home care. No matter what type of accommodation a resident chooses or requires, they are made to feel safe and at home, with visitors and pets welcome and 24 hour emergency medical or personal assistance available.
Bundaleer Gardens Village includes 79 self care units, with 12 more planned and on the way. It also includes a completed 84-bed hostel, as well as a community centre – all complimented by beautiful landscaping with pedestrian and wheelchair access pathways.
Additionally, the commercial centre of Wauchope is located within walking distance of the village. That area includes many of the services and facilities a resident could expect or even want – including an 18 hole golf course, lawn bowling greens, a croquet ground, tennis courts, restaurants, a Senior Citizens Centre, and thriving shopping and light industrial areas.
Bundaleer Care, which operates the village, is a community-owned organisation. According to CEO Dennis Mr. Marks, that fact means they go the extra mile to ensure they provide the best possible quality of care. “We have a good reputation for that quality,” he says. “That’s what sets us apart.”
Mr. Marks has been with Bundaleer since 1983. He joined because he wanted to be a part of an industry on the rise. “I looked at aged care and saw a growing industry and an innovative industry. I looked forward to facing those challenges,” he says.
Looking for the right people
Bundaleer Care employs approximately 180 people, the majority of them female and employed on a part time basis – which is not unusual in the aged care industry. As a community-owned organisation, the Board of Directors at Bundaleer are all community elected. They employ a management team to consult with the staff through various committees, and make sure the staff have input into how the company is managed and how it provides care to the residents.
When acquiring a new staff member, Mr. Marks says they seek out people with empathy and understanding for aged people. “We’re also looking people who are either skilled or prepared to gain the skills that they require to provide the quality of care – and reach the standards of the care – that we provide to our residents,” he says.
Like most companies in the aged care sector, Bundaleer has experienced difficulties retaining staff. To combat this, they started a program wherein they go into the community and form partnerships with job-search and training organisations. “Through those partnerships we advertise widely to people who might be in the community and looking for work,” Mr. Marks says. “We invite them to an information session; we provide them with information about aged care and what it’s about.”
If a person is the right fit for the industry – if they understand its shift work, for instance, and not a Monday to Friday 9-to-5 job – they are invited to a pre-vocational training session provided by their training authority partner. At that point, they can sign on to a four-week aged care training program, and if they are still on board at the end of that, they are assigned traineeships at a Bundaleer facility.
“What we offer is if they finish their traineeship, they will be guaranteed permanent work,” Mr. Marks explains. “Instead of getting people who have qualifications and bringing them into the industry, only to find that they don’t necessarily like it, we’ve gone the opposite direction. We’ve given people some training, offered traineeships when they finish their training, and we find that the people we’re getting are the right sorts of people. They’re enthusiastic, and we think it’s tremendous.”
Once a staff member is on board, Mr. Marks says Bundaleer’s job is not done. “If we’re looking at increasing our quality of care we need to look at our staff and the skills that our staff have,” he says. “We need to look at how we can actually develop those skills, and provide a career path for our employees. What we don’t want to do is just employ them as aged care workers and that’s where they stay.”
What Bundaleer wants, Mr. Marks says, is to bring in a student or a trainee with a plan or a goal. Then, they want to look at how they can help achieve those goals, and encourage their professional development. “We’re quite happy to develop careers and develop our staff’s skills.”
Expectations for aged care are always on the rise, especially when it comes to the baby boomer generation – the sons and daughters of this generation’s aged people. Bundaleer Care has observed this trend, and welcomed it.
“If you have a loved one you need to place in a residential facility, you’re looking at the care,” Mr. Marks says. “When you walk in the front door the first perception is important. The place has got to be clean and well presented, because that reflects the quality of care that is going to be provided to that loved one.” At Bundaleer Gardens Village, the care is top notch, and the facility reflects that.
Bundaleer Gardens Village’s facilities are made up of their self care units, their hostel, and their nursing home. The self care units are stylish and spacious, and include many quality inclusions. The hostel provides single room accommodations in a homelike atmosphere with shared dining and lounge rooms in clusters of 10 residents. As in the self care units, residents of the hostel can be independent while still receiving the personal care they need. In the nursing home, residents receive 24 hour nursing care.
“We need to be able to maintain and, where possible, increase the quality of care to our residents,” says Mr. Marks, summarising the company’s goals for the future.
One way they will be increasing the quality of care is in their nursing home. Currently, that facility is populated with four-bed wards, but Mr. Marks says they have plans to convert to two-bed wards. They are also looking at the government’s aged care reforms, and putting consideration into how Bundaleer will change to stay viable and sustainable.
The company is also looking very closely into “consumer directed care,” where residents and their families will have increasingly input in how they are cared for. That is something the government is pushing for in particular, and something that fits Bundaleer’s business ethos as a community owned organisation.
“How do we deliver better quality care, and how can we be become more attuned to an individual needs?” Mr. Marks asks. “Those are the question we’re looking at answering in our future.”