A poor team culture and individuals who lacked leadership met Yulunda Matau when she joined Amana Living’s James Brown Care Centre in Osborne Park, Western Australia.
Fast forward just under two years and Matau was awarded HESTA’s Individual Distinction Award for driving a cultural transformation at the centre.
When she first stepped into the role of service manager, Matau noted high staff turnover, so decided to sit down with every employee, from the gardener and maintenance officer to the RNs, and lay out her expectations for staff, noting that anything less would not be tolerated.
“Once the staff realised that I was not leaving and that I was there to support them, their personal growth was amazing,” Matau said. “The staff that we have now want to work in aged care and have a genuine passion for our residents.”
Having a more stable workforce has meant that residents’ needs are anticipated and met before issues arise, Matau said.
“The residents can live their lives as they would have in their own homes. If they like to sleep in and have breakfast at 11am, then this is what they can do.
“Resident choice is very important and keeping them in a routine that they are familiar with helps their quality of life. Our staff know our residents well.”
The naked truth
On top of reduced staff turnover, part of the reason for that level of familiarity is due to Matau’s introduction of a system that rosters staff members so they consistently care for the same residents.
“On analysis I found that if a resident required assistance with ADLs on any average fortnight they were seen naked by 29 staff,” she explained. “This is not only undignified, but residents that did not like to shower could get out of it by saying that they had one the previous day.
“We now have the number of people that can see a resident naked down to a maximum of eight. And it’s the same eight staff each fortnight.”
She added that residents have a name now, not just a room number or a diagnosis.
“Our families found it was empowering to be able to talk to the staff that were looking after their loved one if any issue arose. There have been some great friendships and truly amazing bonds formed between the residents, family and staff.”
Matua plans to use the prize money to attend an international conference and participate in educational sessions focused on innovations in mental health and palliative care for residents.
HESTA chief executive Debby Blakey said that Matau along with the other two winners showcase the exceptional work undertaken in the sector to improve services and standards of care for ageing Australians.
Uniting War Memorial Hospital’s Geriatric Flying Squad (GFS) took out HESTA’s Team Innovation Award for reducing unnecessary hospitalisations of older patients.
Under the system the team co-developed, patients meeting select criteria are referred by paramedics and police to the GFS who then treat and assess patients in their homes.
Diane Gellatly, clinical nurse consultant and GFS team member, said the system better uses existing emergency services, resulting in more suitable patient care.
“Older people are too frequently forgotten or disadvantaged by an increasingly complex health care system,” Gellatly said. “We saw that we could better use existing services to meet the needs of the frail and vulnerable in our community.”
She said the team will use the prize money to fund education sessions and develop a suite of resources to educate local police and ambulance services about their referral pathway.
Meanwhile, HESTA’s Outstanding Organisation Award went to Wintringham for its contribution to the social justice of ageing Australians experiencing homelessness in Victoria.
Operating out of Flemington, Wintringham has made eliminating homelessness among ageing Australians its mission and now supports over 2,000 vulnerable people every night.
Wintringham chief executive and founder Bryan Lipmann said it’s greatly rewarding to provide a permanent pathway out of homelessness for older disadvantaged men and women. “By providing safe, secure and supported accommodation options, we deliver a ‘home until stumps’ approach allowing our residents and clients to enjoy an independent and dignified life,” Lipmann said.
He added the prize money will be used to provide training opportunities for staff to further develop their skills and expertise.
The winner of each category won a share in a $30,000 prize pool, courtesy of awards sponsor ME.Do you have an idea for a story?
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