St. Basil’s Homes is a faith-based aged care organisation operating in Lakemba NSW, Australia. They provide only the highest levels of care to their residents, whether they are in their nursing home or in the community.
As an aged care organisation, St. Basil’s is represented across Australia. They operate in nearly every state, but predominately in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. They care for about 2,000 residents across the country. Their facility in Lakemba NSW services approximately 800 clients.
Their division of services includes more than 370 residential beds and 40 independent living units. The remaining 250 clients receive community care in their own home, he says. “We send nurses to their homes to care for them or they come into our daycentres for a day of rest and activity to break the isolation,” says Father Nicholas Stavropoulos, CEO.
St Basil’s also has an Overnight Respite Program for emergency care. “If you’re looking after your loved one and you need to go to a hospital or need a night off, we can take your loved one and look after them for a night,” he says.
While they are a mainstream provider for every aspect of the community, they have sites in Sydney and Melbourne specifically for people who speak Greek exclusively.
The aged care organisation started in 1954 under a different name, The Aged and Infirm Appeal. In 1969, it changed to St. Basil’s Homes. It started off as a Catholic charity, run by a Catholic nun. She handed it over to the Greek Orthodox Church in 1969.
Father Stavropoulos joined in 2003. As a priest in the Greek Orthodox Church, he was asked by the archbishop to take on the role. Prior to that, he was involved in education for most of his career.
As a mainstream provider, St. Basil’s is set apart by being a not-for-profit charity. No one financially benefits from the organisation – any and all money made goes back into the business. “People know that and have a respect for that. We find that the not-for-profits and the charitable providers in the community are trusted a little bit higher,” Father Stavropoulos says.
Because they don’t seek a profit, they’re able to put every available fund back into the care they provide. “We believe that we provide a better level of staffing and higher quality food because we spend more money in those areas,” he says.
Another thing that sets them apart is their strong sensitivity for people’s cultural needs. A lot of their staff speaks languages other than English, so they are able to properly identify the needs of people from diverse cultural backgrounds. “A lot of the mainstream providers are just unable to do that because they have not grown up in anything other than an Anglo world,” he says.
A sense of belonging
St. Basil’s currently employs about 400 people coming from 30 different countries.
With respect to their corporate culture, staff members consider St. Basil’s a family. They have a strong sense of belonging – to the organisation and to each other. Most of their staff has been with St. Basil’s long-term. “We certainly try to encourage that by caring for the staff as much as we care for our residents,” Father Stavropoulos says. “We try to have in place the capacity to care pastorally for our staff and their families.”
They also have a strong focus on education – they believe that by educating staff they’re giving them opportunities in growth, which will lead to more staffing for care, Father Stavropoulos says. “An educated workforce is a dynamic workforce,” he says. “The end result is a more dynamic care model.”
People have come to St. Basil’s to obtain post-education certificates offered through education courses. Many go on to university to become registered nurses, he says. “They were forever grateful for that opportunity.”
Challenge = opportunity
Government regulations have presented both a challenge and an opportunity for St. Basil’s. The costs of providing aged care are growing at a faster rate than funding is, Father Stavropoulos says. The margins are getting smaller, so they have to find different ways of managing the job more efficiently and carefully. “Over the last decade we’ve instituted a lot of efficiencies and changes, especially using technology and changed work practises. It’s always a challenge,” he says.
Another challenge has been the ever-increasing consumer expectations from clients and their families. They’ve been in the aged care industry long enough to have seen a complete evolution of expectations, he explains. For example, their buildings from the 1960s and ‘70s were modernized during that time, but now they have the challenge and cost of updating those to modern standards to meet today’s clientele.
“These days most people coming into aged care require a room of approximately 30 square metres in size with a private bathroom and a little bit of a view. A building like that generally costs in the vicinity of $250,000 per room to build,” he says.
St. Basil’s is also responding to the changing dynamic in aged care with respect to providing care in clients’ homes. People increasingly want to stay their own home, so St. Basil’s has responded and met the need accordingly. They’re also responding to a requirement for better quality of accommodations by building new facilities. “That should keep us busy for a good decade,” Father Stavropoulos says.
They’re currently building a new site in Renwick and expect to have construction finished in 18 months.
A growing community base
As for the long-term future of St. Basil’s, Father Stavropoulos expects their community aged care facilities to rival in size or exceed their residential care. As for as size goes, they’re a conservative operator and don’t plan on tremendous growth. The plan is to expand organically in order to continue to meet the needs of the people who choose to stay at home, he explains.
As they save more money, they will be able to afford to make the next step in expanding St. Basil’s. “We would expect in the next 10 years, we would grow by 50 per cent,” he says. “We want to be the organisation that starts looking after you from the moment you start having aged care needs.”