Jindalee Aged Care Residence, located in Canberra, has been proudly owned and operated by Johnson Village Services Pty Ltd since they purchased the facility from the ACT Government in 1996. Jindalee cares for 148 residents in seven distinct wings, and encourages each one to maintain their independence and continue their involvement in the community. At Jindalee, a resident’s choices and preferences are respected, and their service is tailored to the needs of their changing lifestyles.
When Johnson Village Services purchased Jindalee, it was an 86-bed facility. Over the next 12 years, they progressively increased the size of the facility to 148 places, with all of the new beds being single suites with en-suite bathrooms.
Johnson Village Service also fully re-built the old nursing home and refurbished it, a project that was completed in January 2011. What they have now is a building that is as close to new as it can be, complete with modern equipment. “It is a high quality nursing home – we like to think of it as being amongst the top 10 per cent of quality aged care buildings,” says Owner Gary Johnson.
Overall, Johnson Village Services spent in excess of $15 million on the project. “We have been told now that if it’s not the best nursing home in Canberra, it’s certainly in the finals,” Johnson says.
Care comes first
According to Johnson, Jindalee is set apart in the aged care marketplace by the calibre of their staff. Johnson himself is a veteran of the aged care industry, having earned 34 years of experience while building over 1,000 new nursing home places in New South Wales and Canberra. Jindalee’s two Directors of Nursing also wield the power of experience, having both been with the organisation for the full 16 years of current ownership.
“Their care staff are enrolled nurses and registered nurses, who have got on average, between 10 and 20 years of experience in aged care,” Johnson says. “I think our management capability across the trained nursing staff unit has more than 200 years of aged care experience between them.”
At Jindalee, they have a total of 180 staff delivering care and services to their residents. Retaining that staff can be challenging, especially because of their location in Canberra – a difficult place for aged care because most nurses are employed by the government, who offer more attractive terms.
What helps Jindalee retain staff is having one sole director of the company, Johnson, who makes all decisions without consulting a board of directors. This makes for efficient day-to-day operations, where staff can get direct access to Johnson for instant answers. “Resident care is their priority,” Johnson says. “The staff like working under those conditions and they are very satisfied that my philosophy is resident care comes first and we prove that on a daily basis.”
The organisation recently won a Better Practise Award for their Wound care program. While the industry recognition is valued highly by Jindalee and their nurses, what management sees as more valuable recognition is the daily satisfaction of the residents and their families. “That’s what our reputation is built on and that’s what our success is built on, which is why our facilities are normally full,” he says “But it’s very important for the staff and staff morale to get a little pat on the back.”
Jindalee incorporates modern technology like other aged care facilities, but they’re not “pedantic about it,” Johnson says. In aged care, they’ve noticed there is a high number of good, quality nurses of an older age group that aren’t equipped to deal with computers on the same level as younger people.
“We’re fully computerised and all of our equipment is the latest, but we’re waiting for the next step in technology before we start moving our IT forward,” he says. “We want to see voice activation for care notes and all sorts of other specialised aged care solutions.”
On the horizon
As for what’s ahead, Jindalee has several key projects in the works. One of them is a 21-suite wing extension of their residence. “It’s quite a luxurious pocket of suites at the front of the building,” Johnson says.
In terms of sustainability, Jindalee has instituted a new program that will switch all of their lights to low-voltage. These bulbs use less power and have a longer life and can be used on a 24-hour basis. “They last a long while and they improve the interior of the place, giving it a brighter and more cheerful ambiance 24 hours a day.” Johnson says.
Johnson Village Services, Jindalee’s owner-operators, are in the process of acquiring a near new 120 bed single suite facility. “It adds a value of $18 million, so it is a large capital investment for us.”
As for the long term future, an uncertainty lingers over the aged care industry partly because of current government legislation. Released in May, the government’s Living Longer, Living Better initiative promises $3.9 billion of funding over the next five years, but that isn’t actually the case, Johnson says.
“In effect, it was only around half a billion dollars in new funding pushed out way into the future, and the rest of it came from clawing back fees from existing operators such as myself, redirecting funds from other areas and from increasing the price to the public,” he says. “It is difficult for us to plan ahead at the moment with not knowing the specifics of exactly what the government is going to do.”
However, last year’s government-commissioned Productivity Commission Report provides a small glimmer of hope as it urged serious action needed to be taken if the government wanted people to invest in aged care. “There’s a lot of uncertainty at the moment, but we’re expanding and moving forward in a controlled and conservative way,” Johnson says.