Meeting the future
Padman Health Care (PHC) is among the largest and most respected private operators of aged care services in Australia. In their wide range of facilities, they seek to provide their elderly residents with a relaxed, friendly and luxurious lifestyle in a secure environment.
Founder Viv Padman established the company’s first facility in 1984. In the intervening years, Padman Health Care has grown greatly in size and renown, and now includes 13 premier care facilities across South Australia and Queensland.
In the last couple years, PHC has entered a period of consolidation. In 2011, the Productivity Commission released a report on the aged sector called Caring for Older Australians. In the days following that release, it was uncertain how the government would react, or how public policy would be affected – making it difficult for aged care providers like PHC to plan their next move. Now that some initiatives have proposed, Viv says that the future is beginning to look a little bit clearer.
“We are sifting through the detail of what’s been put forward, and trying to understand the effect the changing legislation is going to have on the industry,” he explains.
Prior to the Productivity Commission’s report, Padman Health Care had aggressively pursued a policy of growth. They had been actively seeking out acquisition opportunities, as well as developing their own facilities. When the Productivity Commission launched their study, however, they were forced to put those strategies “on ice.” According to Viv, they needed to ensure that the organisation would be able to cope with whatever changes the report might trigger.
At the moment, Viv says the industry is starting to get a feel for what those potential changes may be – but some uncertainly still persists.
“Some of the proposed changes have huge ramifications on the decisions that potential clients will have to make about residential aged care,” he says. “We’re concerned that some of the financial arrangements that have been okay in the past are not going to continue to be okay in the future.”
The best in the industry
The changing legislative environment poses a challenge to every aged care provider on the market. For Padman Health Care, contending with that challenge means relying on their highly skilled and dedicated staff.
“We seek to surround ourselves with the best in the industry,” Viv says. “That’s the strategy we’ve always had, and I think to a large extend we’ve succeeded. We are very proud of our workforce.”
Currently, Padman Health Care employs roughly 1000 staff across their 13 facilities. In recent years, engaging with those team members has become one of the company’s chief priorities. As part of that effort, they recently held a special forum for their enrolled and registered nurses.
“It was a leadership forum,” Viv explains. “We had an industry leader and a community leader come and speak to the staff, to help make them feel appreciated and to make them understand that we value their contribution to our organisation.”
“That’s just one step in a longer process of engaging with our staff a lot more,” he adds.
Padman Health Care also has a registered training organisation (RTO) – which they run as a complementary business, and have used to train their own caregivers. As part of their engagement initiative, they have has moved to expand that RTO, improving its product offering and training facilities.
By taking those kinds of steps, PHC has been able to attract and retain the highest calibre of staff in the industry. That focus also that means that, when recruiting, PHC has the luxury of looking at more than an applicant’s previous experience. Instead, they can seek people who fit with the business culturally, and build them up from there.
“What’s most important for us is that our team has the right attitude,” he says. “As long as they have the right attitude, we are able to work with them and Padman-ize them, so to speak.”
Beyond five stars
According to Viv, strong relationships with staff naturally lead to strong relationships with residents – and also resident’s families. He says those close ties are vital to the survival of an aged provider.
“We receive very positive feedback of our staff from relatives,” he says. “We meet with relatives at every site twice a year. We try to meet every relative that attends on those occasions, and the feedback by and large is exceptional.”
“We seek to ensure that staff are at all times respectful, courteous, and communicative to families – just as they are to residents,” he adds.
Another widespread challenge in the aged care industry – on top of the ever-changing regulatory environment – is contending with rising care expectations. According to Viv, PHC has been able to meet those expectations by fostering such strong relationships, and by building all of their facilities as if they were five star hotels – complete with gyms, internet cafes, lavish interiors and more.
“We also seek to go further than that,” Viv adds. “I say to our staff every chance I get that our beautiful five star facilities are only the starting point. What really matters is what kind of service we deliver beyond that. That’s what we’re going to be judged on.”
What the future brings
“We have a number of developments on the drawing board,” says Viv about the company’s future. “If the proposed legislation is conducive to development, we will continue developing. If it’s not, we will continue to consolidate our position and wait for the issues to be ironed out.”
“The scale of the proposed changes is significant,” he adds. “I think the Minister’s been very brave to take on as much as he has, and we’ll just have to wait and see what the outcome is.”
In the meantime, PHC is in the midst of several redevelopments of existing facilities. Viv says those efforts are part of their policy of continuous improvement, which is a policy they pursue aggressively. He also says the group is almost done building a new state-of-the-art facility at Lockleys, Adelaide. That facility will be two-storeys, have 86 beds, and will be situated in a prominent location in the suburbs. Viv expects it to be open in October, later this year.
The group also hopes to expand their in-house building company, Padman Building Services, which was formed mid last year. That company is undertaking $5 million worth of work within one of PHC’s own facilities.
“A lot of the work within an existing aged care facility is logistically very challenging,” Viv explains. “We felt if we took that on ourselves, we’d get a better outcome than if we outsourced it.” Moving forward, he hopes to see that company achieve success and take on additional work in the years to come.
In general, Viv would like to see Padman Health Care – and the private sector as a whole – become more vertically integrated. For PHC in particular, he’d like to branch out and deliver community care services. That can be difficult, however, because of the government’s reticence to award licenses to the private sector.
“Whilst the private sector provides 40 per cent of the residential care in Australia, they provide less than 10 per cent of the community care,” he explains. “This is because, traditionally, the community care licenses are awarded to the charity sector.”
As community care becomes more prominent – which the Productivity Commission recommends – Viv says he would like the government to distribute licenses more equitably.
Until that point, he says Padman Health Care will continue down the path of consolidation, and will continue providing exceptional service and accommodation to their residents.
For more information, please visit their website at: Padman Health Care
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