Tulich Family Communities, formed in 1995, is the result of many years of commitment and dedication to the aged care and retirement industries. Founders Maurice Tulich and Curtis Mann started the company with a vision of creating a retirement community with a continuum of care – a “village for life”, Maurice calls it. “We had a passion about what we were doing,” he explains. “We believed that aged care and retirement facilities could be much better than they had been in the past.”
Maurice comes from a family of market gardeners who emigrated from the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia in 1928, and the site of his first retirement village was previously a market garden. Maurice purchased the property from his grandfather in 1968. “I had always had a vision to build an aged care and retirement village on the land so that it remained connected to the family name,” he says.
Blue Hills Village was the company’s first venture, and that community hosted its first resident in August of 1999. Blue Hills targets the middle of the market, Maurice explains. Durham Green lifestyle village came next, and that community targets middle-to-higher markets. True to Maurice’s “village for life” vision, both properties have independent living units and aged care residences on site.
Before getting into aged care, Maurice was an accountant for a family-owned company that manufactured hospital and nursing home furniture. He says he made the move into the aged care industry for multiple reasons.
One reason was his grandfather. “He sold me the land and then returned to his homeland to retire, but came straight back because, after 40 years, it had lost its appeal to him,” Maurice recalls. “When I was younger I grew tomatoes to supplement my income, and my grandfather would come over and help me. He used to say ‘Maurice, if there’s anything you could do with this land do it for the old people.’ It didn’t make sense to me at the time.”
The second reason was his mother, who looked after her parents as well as his father’s parents in their old age. “She found it enormously difficult.” Maurice recalls, “And her experience had a lasting impact on me.”
A third and final reason was the work he did at his old company. In that position, he visited nursing homes and aged care facilities all across the country. “At that time, I witnessed facilities that were undesirable, and care that was undignified. I believed I could do it better,” he says. By that time, his grandfather’s words started making sense, and his vision came together.
Continuum of care
So how does Tulich Family Communities do it better? Maurice says that there are a variety of reasons. Most importantly, they provide a continuum of care. “With our villages you can come in as an independent living person and then go on to aged care,” he says. “Or a husband, for example, can be in an aged care facility and his wife can be in an independent living unit in the same village.”
Another reason is the superior design of Tulich properties – according to Maurice, anybody who sees their facilities in person will immediately know the difference. “Wow, I could live here,” he says people state upon on viewing the facilities – even “the kids of the parents.”
In general, they set themselves apart by giving people choice. Maurice describes past retirement villages as a “box”, one that Tulich has broken out of. “You were told ‘This is what you’re getting, and that’s it. If you don’t like it, too bad,’” he explains. “Clientele had a very bad opinion of retirement living and aged care facilities as signifying the end of their life, whereas we believe it’s the beginning of a new life.”
Indeed, Tulich Family Communities has a motto – “retire to live”. Patients can come to them for independent living and choose whatever unit fits them. They offer three bedroom homes, two bedroom homes, double garages, single garages and everything in between. “And they’re affordable, and we’re only here to provide the service,” Maurice adds. “The residents are independent as much as they can be.”
Later in a resident’s life, when they move along the care continuum and into the aged care facility, Tulich still ensures that residents feel at home. All of their rooms are single bedded rooms with en-suites, so residents do not have to share. “The best reference we have is our residents,” Maurice says. “I’m quite happy for anyone to talk to our residents and ask what it’s like to live in a Tulich Family facility.”
Tulich Family Communities is also well liked by the people working within their facilities. According to Maurice, they have approximately 150 staff members, and their satisfaction is almost as high as the residents. “Most people like to work here,” he says. “We have people wanting to work for us because we’re different. We’ve targeted younger people for the market, and we offer career development opportunities.”
As they move into the future, Tulich Family continues to grow and improve. Currently, Maurice says they are working on joint-ventures, forming partnerships with people who own land in appropriate places to create new developments. With these new developments, Tulich seeks to duplicate and improve on their blueprints and success. In this aim, they are currently developing a community in Dubbo called Kintyre, and one in Figtree called Hillside.
As far as the lands they already have, Maurice says their village at Durham Green still has capacity to grow. At present, they have 79 houses built out of a potential 160. They are just starting on the next stage of that facility’s development, and have a new license to build a 52-bed “memory lodge” facility. That will start construction in June or July of this year.
In general, Tulich Family Communities has opportunities to last them well into the future. “The existing facilities have a lifespan from the building-side of 25 years, and from the lifestyle-side probably another 100 years,” Maurice says.