Building Better Aged Care

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-By Tracey Hilderley

Think about doing something for 60 years and you might say to yourself: “That’s just about an entire lifetime for one person.” Then think of how many fragile lives could be cared for in that time period. How many memories shared and family moments cherished. Think of a family name that has been developing and building aged care facilities just about that long and you may think of Moran who is currently at the top of its game in this industry.

Back in the day there were only a handful of hospitals and nursing care facilities. Doug and Greta Moran thought they would get started on their way to a major conglomerate in 1954 with the opening of their first nursing home. Previously, the aged would have had to be housed in older, out-of-business hospitals or mansions that had been converted to accommodate the needs of the elderly – not an optimal situation given the fact that it would be an uninviting place for grandchildren to go to visit Grandma and Grandpa.

Being the entrepreneurs that Mr and Mrs Moran were at the time, they soon realised that as time went on they would have to start monopolising on the fact that there was a strong necessity for nursing homes and not a lot of people looking into the needs of the aged. They did some research and gathered their resources in such a way that they could build on these needs, and developed a legacy that still stands strong.

“We may struggle to say that building a purpose-built facility today is an ‘innovation’ as it was in the 1960s, however the innovative thinking and the taking of opportunities to create unique design that further enhances standards in the industry has been an ongoing process for Moran that continues today,” said Peter Moran, Managing Director of the company, in a recent interview.

By the time the year 2006 rolled around, Moran Health Care Group Pty Ltd was operating 51 nursing homes across Australia. During that year Doug Moran felt that the economy was “at the top of the market” and Moran had a large number of older facilities that were not as state of the art as they once had been. Doug and Greta believed that “the time was ripe to sell the good with the not so good whilst the market was high.” Proving to be a very risky but wise business decision at the time, Doug could foresee an imminent recession, and bought and restructured developing facilities in order to have a secure base for Moran in the future.

A question that is regularly asked by families and prospective residents researching the marketplace is, “What is the nurse to patient ratio in your complexes?” Rather than focussing on the actual ratio (which is more than adequate to meet the requirements) Moran focusses on its philosophy of care. The facilities are developed with smaller “houses” which usually provide accommodation for 20 residents within the main building. Each house becomes its own small community and features its own dining area, lounges, sitting rooms, courtyards and activities areas. The staff work within their houses and are stationed comfortably, which enables better knowledge, understanding and relationships between the staff and the residents.

Moran also believes that cooking only fresh meals gives residents the dining experience that they should expect to receive. At many other facilities the food is frozen then reheated (cook-chill) as this provides opportunities for lowering costs. “We believe that if you can’t look forward to your meals then you are not going to be as happy as you should be in our facilities,” says Mr Moran. The company takes pride in the fact that its menus take four weeks to repeat themselves and are regularly reviewed and updated. “We think that this is an active demonstration of the resident experience and care being of primary importance rather than focussing on the business end only.”

Each facility also takes pride in filling its social calendar by employing entertainers, from singers and musicians to magicians and pet shows. Karaoke is a favourite as well. Some staff are also entertainers themselves and can play the piano. Residents enjoy regularly scheduled bus trip outings, and domestic animals are brought onsite for pet therapy, a recurring activity the residents also thoroughly enjoy.

In 2011, Moran Sylvania was completed, containing 162 large single rooms with en suites located within eight connected houses. The facility includes eight dining rooms, 12 lounges and a number of sitting rooms. There is a cinema, a heated indoor recreational pool that is 16 metres long and six metres wide with ramp access and Hydrotherapy activities, an art gallery, and large activity rooms with two pianolas that have been donated by the community. Only state of the art commercial kitchens are used in addition to energy efficient commercial laundry facilities. “The facility represents a $50 million dollar investment. The facility caters magnificently to singles and couples.”

Moran Roxburgh Park also opened up in 2011 and has five houses accommodating 132 residents in a mixture of single and double rooms. Set in wonderfully landscaped gardens with large outdoor courtyards, the facility takes fantastic advantage of natural light and provides large residential rooms, all with en suites. The facility contains five dining rooms and 12 lounge and sitting rooms plus large activities areas. Diversional therapists that work with clients to achieve positive health outcomes by incorporating leisure programmes into their lifestyles are full time staff at all facilities.

Of course, Moran is not immune to the issue of global staff shortages in the field of nursing. “It is one of the greatest challenges facing the industry,” says Mr Moran, “and as the population ages there is a smaller workforce of aged/health care workers than is required.” To combat this challenge, Moran offers intensive internal training, and allows workers the scheduling flexibility to take advantage of external training programmes. Moran’s supportive workplace culture has helped make the company an employer of choice for staff, which makes it ahead of the curve.

With the high cost of building facilities that meet the current needs and future expectations a natural concern, “Moran employs a group of highly skilled development professionals and has established a new construction company, ‘Moran Built Pty Ltd’ who developed and built our new facility at Sylvania in Sydney. By controlling the building process from conception to commissioning we are able to deliver a product that satisfies all of our requirements in terms of design, standards of finish, resident and clinical needs.”

A new facility is about to undergo construction in Sydney. Moran Engadine has been designed and will be built by the construction arm of the company. “We are very excited about this project. The facility will be located within the central business area with excellent access to shops and public transport. The facility will have excellent views and inclusions with access to landscaped gardens and balconies.” says Mr Vince Kachel, Project Manager.

“We have obvious pride in the lead we have taken in creating in excess of 100 nursing homes and private hospitals across Australia. Not only are these still operating but they have provided dignity, security, comfort and care to thousands of Australians and their families. We have created thousands of jobs through the creation of these facilities, initially construction jobs and then ongoing care, related support roles and management positions in these facilities. Moran has had a reputation for excellence of care for more than 55 years. We believe that this reputation assists us to be aged care providers of choice.”

Sadly Doug Moran passed away in late 2011 at the age of 86. His wife and co-founder Greta remains active on the board of Moran Health Care Group. “Peter is carrying on the good work of his parents with foresight and leadership. The future looks very good.” says Mr Kachel.

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

January 18, 2019, 3:36 AM AEDT