Professional But Personal

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-By Kristy Attard

The Beatles sang, “Help! I need somebody, help! Not just anybody…” That sums up the state of the demand for quality home care and nursing services in Australia. Over the past decade, there has been a massive boom in the numbers of home care and nursing agencies available, some, of course, better than others. What makes Kinder Caring not just another name in the industry? According to CEO Adam Blake, it is about maintaining a solid reputation in the community built upon the capabilities of highly trained field staff, owned and managed by Registered Nurses. “We get great feedback; we pride ourselves on being a nursing service, not a nursing agency.” Since Adam’s mother Pam founded Kinder Caring in 1998, the business has continued to raise the industry standard with a commitment to providing quality care.

People, Not Numbers

Is the home care and nursing industry an easy one to work in? “No, not at all,” replies Adam. “Being a service industry you’re dealing with a lot of different personalities.” Families are often feeling stressed and exhausted, and looking after a loved one requiring care can be a guilt-laden burden. They need warmth and kindness along with practical assistance and care. Home care is an industry where elder abuse is a real problem. People are not always aware of the services that are available or the differences in the standards of care that exist between service providers. “The industry is in need of regulation to ensure that the elderly are not taken advantage of, and that is why we have been accredited with the Australian Health Care Standards (ACHS) since 1998 and why we are now gaining certification with the Attendant Care Industry association (ACiS).”

Kinder Caring specialises in providing professional homecare and nursing services with a personal touch. “What we say is we will do anything and everything to maintain a client in their own home.” The company was founded by Pam when she was working in a nursing home and noticed the need for a service that gives people the choice to remain in their own home. Pam set up the company to give elderly people and their families choice with their end of life arrangements and palliative care.

Kinder Caring makes quality staff members a priority, and follows a stringent recruitment process. Any person who applies for a job will have three separate opinions formed on them as to whether they are a good fit for the role or not. Qualifications and references are thoroughly checked. Kinder Caring looks for staff with compassion, initiative and a positive attitude to work. “We’re definitely professional but I guess we can have a laugh at the same time,” says Adam. “There’s a good team environment here. Everyone jumps in if there’s a problem or a shift comes up for a client that needs to start straight away.”

Kinder Caring has high expectations for its employees. The aim is to exceed client expectations by maintaining a level of service that is consistently exceptional. Field staff are overseen by Registered Nurses to ensure that staff are providing care that is tailored to the client’s needs and preferences. “We employ a multi-disciplinary team which includes a social worker to ensure that services are comprehensive and professional. We appointed a new Operations Manager in September last year whose previous role as a Director of Nursing with extensive experience in aged care has resulted in a better understanding of the needs of our clients,” says Adam.

At Kinder Caring, it is just as important to match the personality of a carer or nurse with a client as it is to match their skill set. Kinder Caring is proactive in ensuring that an appropriate carer is assigned to each client. This way, clients receive the best possible care from a person with a compatible personality. Kinder Caring values and actively responds to client feedback. “On the back of all our invoices and forms there’s a feedback section where they can let us know if we met with their expectations or exceeded them.” It is very satisfying for Kinder Caring staff to know that they are making a real difference in the lives of others. “Going that extra mile with the personality matching helps in the long run regarding the clients being happy with their carers.”

Adam himself joined Kinder Caring after returning from London at the end of 2002. He admits that at first he was a bit unsure about joining the family business, but that apprehension quickly vanished. “I started working in the business in a house out of Edgecliff Woollahra. I really started to believe in what we did and what we provided to the community.” Adam enjoys using his background in technology to develop strategies and implement them. “That,” he says, “would have to be the best part of my job.”

Outstanding Service

Opening offices interstate was a significant move forward for Kinder Caring. There are now Kinder Caring offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The company provides a wide variety of services which are categorised under home care, management and consulting. Homecare can vary greatly from services not requiring a nurse – like having a carer provide some friendly companionship for a few hours – up to 24 hour nursing care. Under the management arm of the company, Kinder Caring overlooks the case management of clients, “so we may not have workers in there [in those cases], we just manage their case.”

Consulting is another important part of everyday business at Kinder Caring. “Unfortunately not everyone can stay at home so we can help place people into Aged Care Facilities,” explains Adam. “In the consultation Kinder Caring does a lifestyle evaluation which is around a table with the family and client. This enables an informed decision to be made by figuring out what is affordable for the client, what the client wants, what the family wants, et cetera.”

Kinder Caring is also a registered training organisation. The aim of the Kinder Caring Academy is to create the most well trained staff in the industry. At the moment, the academy is teaching certificates 3 and 4 for aged, home and community care. The idea for the academy grew out of a conversation Adam had with a woman many years ago. “She asked me why she should go with us. I had a chat with her about everything we did and how we do it and said that we’re accredited. She said, ‘Everyone’s accredited, they must be accredited to be in business!’ It didn’t go well and I said to myself, ‘How am I going to educate the public on who are the best and who are the worst agencies?’” Adam began studying the market. He found new agencies popping up overnight, a majority of which he believed were lacking the appropriate qualifications to be operating. “I thought, ‘well as this happens more and more who are going to be the market leaders? Who are going to be the ones that are going to stand out from the rest?’ The answer was training staff to provide a wonderful level of service that brings light to the lives of people everywhere.”

Powering Up

Regarding the future direction of the company, Adam comments that, “We’re still trying to build on our strengths and not diversify too much. We’re moving into disability [care] a lot more than we ever have.” Australia has an ageing population and a growing need for quality home care and nursing providers. “We’d like to power into the other states a bit more, get more aggressive in Perth and do something up in Adelaide.” Public perception of the care industry has changed greatly over the years, and people are realising that home and nursing care is for everyone, not just the wealthy. Australians are now more willing to reach out for help.

With the increased demand, the home and nursing care industry is now highly competitive. “Everyone is being told how much money there is in aged care; you’ve got people opening up aged care agencies all over the place. There’s no real regulation in providing private care so anyone I guess can do it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re qualified.”

Adam advises people not to settle if they are not happy regarding their current in-home or nursing care provider. “We see some issues out in the community where clients go in and potentially pick an agency through price only and then find out it’s not what they want but just assume that everyone’s the same but they’re the cheapest. Don’t settle and think that everyone’s the same. Get back out there and look on Google… or ask your social worker in the hospital who the agencies are. Do some research and ask more questions.”

Kinder Caring is set to increase staff training to make sure that clients are getting the very best care possible. Adam says his mother Pam and himself “won’t be happy until we hear people talking about our staff and what they can do.” Kinder Caring is moving toward the future with a focus on being the provider of choice for Australians in need of a helping hand.

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?

September 22, 2018, 6:09 PM AEST