Multicultural Care with an Italian Flare

The Italian Benevolent Foundation

Formed in the early seventies, The Italian Benevolent Foundation is a not for profit organisation governed by an honorary Board of Management whose objectives are to establish, promote, conduct, support, advance and manage benevolent institutions for charitable purposes in the Commonwealth of Australia for the care, comfort and welfare of aged persons primarily of Italian origin or descent.

The IBF has been caring for elderly Italian and non-Italians alike since 1974. Relationship Manager Patrizia Kadis was happy to share that although the organisation’s name reflects its Italian roots, “We have a number of other cultures receiving services including Greek, Ukrainian, Egyptian, Slovenian, Scottish, Cyprian, Yugoslavian, American, Australian and English. Through our community and residential services, IBF is committed to continually building on its relationships and partnerships. We favour a collaborative approach to achieve culturally and linguistically appropriate frameworks by sharing resources, cultural knowledge, expertise and access for clients and their families.”

IBF is a leading culturally specific provider within Australia’s aged care sector. “We attract persons from various and diverse cultural backgrounds. We pride ourselves on acquiring and retaining culturally aware staff who, with the proper support and training, can offer our consumers a service that understands their culture, language, communication, behaviour, beliefs and values through the entire experience.

“Currently, one in four persons over 80 years of age are from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse, or CALD, backgrounds,” Patrizia explains. “And by the year 2016, one in three persons will be over 80 years of age. Whilst we are the largest Italian Aged Care Organisation in South Australia, we also support consumers from many other backgrounds including smaller aged care providers. We work with mainstream resources to achieve culturally appropriate services via joint partnership projects. Staff participate and represent IBF on a number of working parties, focus groups and research projects for CALD. This includes representation on boards, network groups, advisory and steering committees. IBF advocates and promotes linguistically and culturally appropriate services and equity in accessing programmes.”

IBF markets itself via a monthly radio session for the South Australia audience. Its quarterly newsletter is distributed to over 2,000 consumers and stakeholders, and the organisation maintains a modern and comprehensive website. But IBF’s “most effective marketing tool is word of mouth, due to our long standing history and reputation within the Italian community, mainstream service providers and within government bodies.”

The Italian Benevolent Foundation’s new Chief Executive Officer, Andrew McFarland, has a strong vision for the IBF and the direct focus is now on new government reforms and Consumer Directed Care (CDC) to ensure that older persons can continue to enjoy their lives with dignity through their later years. Patrizia explains, “We are actively facing the challenges of Consumer Directed Care options for all of our community consumers. CDC promotes choice and will empower the consumer to achieve the best outcome that meets their needs. This ensures that the consumer lives their life the way that they choose to. IBF is continually seeking opportunities to expand services to the Italian community whilst also being inclusive of other cultural communities that require support and expertise in the development of their services.”

The organisation recently completed a three year project funded by the Department of Health and Ageing to develop an information training package to support CALD carers in their caring role. The project proved highly successful with the Italian and Tatar-Bashkurt communities, and the IBF also enjoys cultural exchange visits with Latvian, Greek, Chinese, and Arabic communities. There is also an Aboriginal specific CACP and EACH program operating metro wide. IBF’s community programs consist of Community Aged Care Packages, Extended Aged Care at Home Packages, HACC Low Level Care packages, National Respite for Carers Programs, Healthy Lifestyle Dementia Respite Programs, Passa Tempo Programs, Social and Carers Support Programs, Carers Education, and Community Partners Projects.”

Presently, IBF maintains three residential sites and five community service sites across the Adelaide Metropolitan area. St Anthony’s Lodge at St Agnes is located in the leafy suburb, close to Tea Tree Plaza Shopping Centre, Modbury Hospital and the Oban Bus Terminal. This home is nestled in the area’s foothills which boast an abundance of wildlife for residents to enjoy. The facility features a 25 bed building specialising in the treatment and management of dementia, with specially trained staff and dementia-specific therapies.

Domus Operosa at Burton is a new IBF facility, built around a lovely lake with a bridge where residents and families can stroll and enjoy the views of the adjacent wetlands. This home has regularly achieved all 44 standards and works to continually improve the lifestyle it offers to residents at all levels.

The Campbelltown Residential Facility has 39 high level nursing care rooms where residents receive assistance with daily activities, medication management, continence support, wound care and allied health care including physiotherapy, podiatry, occupational therapy and speech therapy. This facility also retains specially trained dementia staff.

“At our Italian Village site,” Patrizia explains, “we have redeveloped a new kitchen, dining room, chapel and accommodations. We are currently constructing 53 new beds to be completed by early 2013. Residents have the option to engage in community events such as monthly luncheons at local Italian clubs and a variety of other social functions. Participants from other cultures are supported and linked into their local community events. Our cultural activities, which include lifestyle, sporting, entertainment and spiritual events, engage residents to attend and participate at their leisure.”

The aged care industry has fought through some trying times and is continually facing the challenge of staff retention. With IBF’s commitment to training and development, flexibility and job satisfaction, the organisation is proud that 70 per cent of staff have been with the organisation for seven years or more. “Our staff have personal development opportunities via our Registered Training Organisation, or RTO, to access training outreach programmes to ensure a highly skilled work force. Our RTO builds on the skills of our staff and volunteers who have come to IBF eager to learn and are highly trainable individuals. The RTO supports staff and volunteers to be trained in Certificate 3 for Aged Care, Certificate 4 Service Coordination or Frontline Management. Constant modification of ongoing and advancement training for both personal and professional development ensures that the workforce is up to date with emerging trends.”

The flexibility and salary packaging that IBF offers is quite an attractive feature for persons looking to get back into the workforce or seeking a career change. IBF works with local employment agencies and develops apprenticeships and a valuable volunteer experience. “Volunteering within our organisation,” says Patrizia, “has provided our volunteers with the opportunity to gain skills, education and development to achieve gainful employment. Word of mouth and praise from existing staff proves to be a great tool to attracting persons from numerous cultural backgrounds. We are a large organisation, and among the top ten aged care organisations in South Australia and quite proud of that fact. With assets exceeding $58 million and a turnover of $25 million, IBF is happy to accommodate and support over 2150 consumers, 460 caring staff and 160 volunteers.”

At present, IBF is participating in a research project entitled, ‘Improving support for caregivers of people with dementia,’ aimed at strengthening community care services. In partnership with Flinders University, Dementia Collaborative Research Centres, and Alzheimer’s Australia, the project aims to acquire greater insight into and support for dementia care.

Similarly, the Italian Carers Dementia Education programme provides education, information and support to carers caring for someone with dementia. Sessions are delivered in Italian by bilingual health professionals and community health workers run for six weeks, commencing Tuesday 16th October 2012.

IBF is also excited about the Sta Bene, or Stay Well, Project. “This year, IBF has applied for the Positive Ageing Development Grant; this application seeks funds for this venture as the proposed project will aim to work with the community to raise awareness and promote healthy living choices. The project will provide information sessions that will be facilitated at local Italian clubs and presented by an Italian speaking professional.”

The Italian Benevolent Foundation also supports diverse projects which foster links for students to partake in scholarships and maintain their Italian culture and language. This year, as Italy celebrates 150 years of unification, students with Italian backgrounds will have the opportunity to apply for a scholarship. Through valuable community programmes such as this, and its quality aged care services throughout the Adelaide area, the Italian Benevolent Foundation seeks to enhance the wellbeing of everyone it reaches.

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?

December 16, 2018, 3:54 PM AEDT