Lyndoch Living is an aged and extended care services provider in South West Victoria with well forged links to their community, and a core mission to provide that community with tailored services, care and support. When it comes to providing that support, they are guided by a philosophy they have called the Lyndoch Way – a philosophy that focuses on residents, clients and staff being in control of their own life and lifestyle, which is an underlying premise that is present in everything Lyndoch Living does.
While the Lyndoch Way is a relatively new innovation, the organisation has been around since 1952. At that time, the prime Warrnambool riverfront property was purchased by a consortium of local business people and through community fundraising they established a 12 bed hostel that would be owned by the community. In its 60 year history, Lyndoch has grown and flourished to the point that its care and support services now touch more than 3700 individuals annually across the South West.
Rhys Boyle, CEO of Lyndoch Living, has been with the business 20 years. When he joined, the organisation was in the midst of an eventful chapter in its history with the government pushing a forced amalgamation with other health services, and the community pushing back.
“I could see that it was an organisation on the cusp of moving forward,” Boyle recalls. “There was a strong push from the community for Lyndoch to retain its independence, and the Board fought alongside the community tooth and nail against the government’s amalgamation push.”
“In 1993 I looked at Lyndoch and thought that it was a very strong organisation, had a committed Board with the community behind it, and that it would be an appropriate place to learn the ropes of aged residential care,” he says.
Originally, Boyle joined Lyndoch with a 12-month contract, fully intending to return to the acute health sector at the expiration of the contract. Boyle, however, developed a strong affinity with aged care and Lyndoch Living, and over the following 20 years he has overseen the organisation’s expansion into community care and support services. Today, Lyndoch Living has 198 residential beds and provides services to over 600 people a day through community based care packages and support programs.
“In recent years our community based programs have moved beyond aged care with approximately a quarter of our clients now under 50 years of age with many of them being children,” Boyle says. “We now deliver a broad base of services in the disability arena, to clients with acquired brain injury, drug and alcohol issues, and other chronic health programs – irrespective of age.”
Supporting these programs, Lyndoch Living also operates a retirement village called Waterfront in Warrnambool. That village currently has 44 units, but is about to embark on a significant redevelopment with all but eight of the existing units being demolished to make way for 84 new apartments. “This will be a premium offer that is currently not available in the South West,” Boyle says. “The 30 million dollar four stage project is due to commence this year with Stage 1, being 36 apartments, being put to tender in October.” The retirement village will be a lynchpin for the long term viability of Lyndoch, enabling it to continue to provide quality residential care services in an increasingly difficult financial environment.
A new stage
Lyndoch Living is a well known and trusted brand in the community, and according to Boyle, that’s what sets them apart. “We have been operating in the South West for 60 years; we are a not for profit organisation; there are no faceless shareholders we have to appease and the ownership is local,” he says.
The Board at Lyndoch Living is made up of nine community representatives, and as an Incorporated Association, they bring the appropriate skills to that Board table to keep the business viable.
“Someone said to me once that Lyndoch was like a favourite old Aunt, you love the fact that they are there, but you really don’t want a lot to do with them,” Boyle says. That perception has been generally held for 50-plus years. Despite this, the organisation has not been afraid of evolution. Lyndoch Living was recently chosen as the organisation’s new name to reflect the group’s focus on living and lifestyle.
“Aged care is not the last stage of life, it’s just another richer stage of your whole life,” Boyle says, summarising the organisation’s philosophy. “Our services are provided for very young children right through to centurions. We offer a broad range of services and programs to maximise the life potential of our residents and clients to assist them maintain the lifestyle they choose for themselves, and I think that’s why people gravitate to us when they need assistance.”
“The community knows that we think outside the square and that we treat everybody as an individual – that’s whether they’re a resident, a client, a tenant of the village or a staff member,” he adds. “We accept individuality, embrace it, and endeavour to meet everyone’s unique needs wherever possible.”
Lyndoch Living employs approximately 430 staff, and Boyle says that workforce is very stable, with many of those staff, like himself, having been with the organisation for long periods of time. Boyle credits this rather unique retention statistic to the fact that Lyndoch provides its people with multiple career paths, is committed to continuous improvement, and endeavours to stay at the forefront with technology and contemporary care.
“We embrace experience and training, and we support staff to further their skills and qualifications to keep at the forefront of our industry,” Boyle says. As an example, in recent years Lyndoch has provided scholarships for two of their staff to travel to Europe and the USA to attend conferences and study tours to experience international trends in caring for ABI clients, and in the Eden Philosophy of Care in residential facilities. Both scholarship recipients have brought back new thinking and workable examples for improving the services Lyndoch offers locally, which is outstanding for the local communities they ultimately serve.
“We’re always looking to push the envelope and develop new services in the South West, and to complement those provided by acute and disability service providers in the region,” says Boyle.
“I think staff make a conscious decision to work in aged care,” he adds. “What we have been pushing for many years is that aged care is a specialist business, and we only want to employ the best people who have an interest in and are committed to aged and extended care. We encourage our key staff towards ongoing education and training to ensure that, as leaders, they facilitate contemporary care and services which hopefully surpass the expectations of those in receipt of those services.”
Providing staff with a positive and innovative work environment is important because residential aged care does not have a high profile compared to other health sectors, especially when it comes to attracting staff. “It is not seen as an attractive alternative to acute care for example,” Boyle says. “We’ve basically asked ourselves ‘What can we do to make Lyndoch stand apart from the crowd?’ We try to do this with everything we do, so we’ve adopted the Lyndoch Way, which guides the organisation toward a culture we aspire to.”
“The Lyndoch Way emanated from a four day workshop that all senior staff attended a few years ago where we asked ourselves, ‘What is the culture now?’ and then ‘What do we want it to be in 2015?’” Boyle recalls.
The answers to those questions resulted in the Lyndoch Way, which is built on seven key pillars being, developing a one team approach; having pride in their work; establishing a welcoming workplace; embedding a yes culture; delivering quality customer service; embracing innovation, and encouraging fun and enjoyment at work. “Everything we now do within the organisation revolves around those seven pillars,” Boyle says. “It’s the way we do things here.”
Of those pillars, Boyle credits having a “yes culture” as being the most unique and empowering. “We think that the ‘yes’ culture is something that’s been a great success for us,” he says. “We work on the premise of starting every discussion with ‘Yes.’ What we tried to turn around was the mindset of, ‘No, we can’t do it for budget reasons’ and ‘No, we can’t do it because we don’t do that here’ or ‘No, it’s too difficult.’”
Although not without its problems, Lyndoch’s start from a Yes attitude has been successful with even the most complex and emotional issues being worked through, so that there is a “win win” situation for all concerned. “It’s not for everyone, and it does take some getting used to, but in the end it’s all about wherever possible meeting the individual needs of those we serve,” Boyle says.
“Everyone recognises that we cannot accede to absolutely every request for a whole range of reasons; but just as importantly, they now know that at least they will be given the opportunity to discuss issues, put their case, and ultimately understand the organisation’s thinking behind its decisions, as opposed to feeling shut down and not listened to – the plague of many large impersonal organisations.”
Fun and enjoyment is another important pillar. “We all work long hours, we all work hard, and it can be a thankless business, so we try desperately to make the time at work as much fun as it can be for the staff while still maintaining our professionalism,” Boyle says.
The Lyndoch Way is the cornerstone of the organisational transformation that Lyndoch has planned for in its medium and long term future.
Then there’s Lyndoch
Moving forward, Lyndoch Living faces increasing local competition for its services. To combat that challenge, Boyle says that a conscious decision was made to not compete with other operators, but instead to differentiate their services by raising the bar and quality across all Lyndoch services.
The Lyndoch mantra has become ‘If you want to get nursing home, hostel care, retirement living or community care services that only meet minimum government standards then look to other providers for your options. If you want something better than that, then look to Lyndoch as we have lifted the bar on all of our services and the expectations of our staff to deliver a superior product.’
“This philosophy has been embraced by all staff,” Boyle adds. “Competition is good for any business and if we want to still be in the business in another 50 or 60 years time, we have to offer something that is better than everybody else – that is what Lyndoch Living is all about, delivering the best service and meeting the expectations of all our key stakeholders.”
Lyndoch is currently taking major steps towards achieving that superior offering, and making some ambitious plans for where they want to be and what they want their services to look like in the years ahead.
“We are planning for considerable growth in our retirement village; a restructuring of our residential services to offer a superior quality of service, and our community based services will see significant growth as well to meet an unmet demand,” Boyle says.
“It’s going to be a very exciting period for us over the next five to ten years as we continue to chase our aspiration of being the premier service provider to South West Victoria.”