Living life to the fullest
Kew Gardens Aged Care is an award-winning extra service residential care facility. Its multi-level facility – located amongst beautiful landscaped grounds and surrounding parklands, and overlooking the magnificent Alexandra Gardens – features luxurious amenities and is designed to provide an extensive range of premium services to assist residents in living life to the fullest.
“The outstanding thing that differentiates us is that what we’re doing is as close as you can possibly get to providing five-star hotel services,” says Kew Gardens CEO Charmaine Waugh. “Care is a big component of what we do, but our focus is on lifestyle and wellbeing. We aim to enrich a person’s life though the provision of many and varied leisure, lifestyle and social pursuits.”
Kew Gardens Aged Care was founded by John Matthies, who comes from a legacy of aged care providers. The Matthies family have been involved in aged care since the 1960s, and John’s parents Keith and Betty Matthies are acknowledged by the industry as being amongst its early innovators. They were one of the first operators to build and operate new purpose-built facilities in the 1970s and early 1980s, and were also the founders and operators of Canterbury Nursing Home from 1966 to their retirement in the mid-2000s. Today, Betty and Keith Matthies are residents of Kew Gardens.
John Matthies, Managing Director of Australian Aged Care Group Pty Ltd, has accordingly had a lifelong involvement in the aged care industry – both as an operator and lawyer – and was keen to perpetuate the legacy of his parents. For several years, John looked for a suitable site to construct a state-of-the-art facility that would meet the needs and expectations of both his parents’ generation and baby boomers.
In 2005, Matthies was fortunate to locate a suitable site in Gellibrand Street, Kew, which was previously occupied by the Catholic Archbishop. In constructing Kew Gardens Aged Care, he spared no expense – the new facility includes a cinema, café, bar, barbeque courtyard, and private dining room overlooking the Alexandra Gardens. At the same time, Kew Gardens retains a homelike appearance and ambience.
“It’s a lot more user-friendly, some people would say luxurious,” John says, explaining what sets his facility apart from everything else on the marketplace. “We’ve endeavoured to provide hotel type level of services and care.”
In particular, Kew Gardens is distinguished by the quality of their rooms. Whereas most aged care facilities will simply offer a bedroom, at Kew Gardens they focus on providing suites – rooms with a bedroom, ensuite bathroom, sitting room and kitchenette. “It just makes it a bit more home like,” John says.
Finally, Kew Gardens set themselves apart by providing a professional and attentive service that is unrivalled in the market. They have approximately 110 staff members, all of whom are highly skilled and valued. Their corporate culture is an extraordinarily positive one. At the Aged Care Association of Australia’s 2011 conference, Kew Gardens won the Employer of the Year Award as nominated by staff – one of a number of accolades they have received over the last few years.
“A lot of that flows from the people we have in the management positions,” John says. “We endeavour to employ good people and provide a good working environment.”
“Our staff are empowered people with knowledge, skills, empathy and a great understanding of ageing issues,” Charmaine adds. “They are aware of the lifestyle our clientele expects led and provide opportunities that are in line with this experience. We see our employees as the greatest of our assets, and by investing in them we have been able to provide excellence in care, hotel services and a continuing lifestyle of choice for residents. This has been the catalyst that has positioned Kew Gardens to be recognised as a premier provider in the residential aged care market.”
One way Kew Gardens invests in its people is through a rewards program. Every business quarter, they select six employees and invite them to lunch with John Matthies. There, one of those employees is presented with employee of the quarter, and given a voucher. In the past, these vouchers have included helicopter tours, champagne lunches, and a plethora of other exciting activities.
They also have room for advancement within the organisation. According to Charmaine, the greatest reward she gets from her job is observing the personal growth and career development of her employees.
In the future, John says that he would like to add more facilities to Australian Aged Care Group Pty Ltd, the company that owns Kew Gardens. They are already building a new 90-bed extra service facility at Cowes, Phillip Island, and completing a planning application for a new 50-bed premium facility at their old site in Canterbury. In the years to come, as the number of elderly increase, Matthies says his group will be well positioned to capitalise on the growing market.
“Most of those people will be baby boomer generation types, and will have much higher expectations of the type of facility and the standard of care that they want,” John says. “We’re endeavouring to cater for them. I’d like to end up with five or six facilities all catering to that generation, and effectively providing hotel type accommodation and services.”