Compassionate Care


Currently PresCare is undertaking expansion, and is developing new facilities to meet growing demand. As part of its new focus, the organisation is moving into the retirement living aspect of care. This can be a demanding and expensive area, so the company is utilising leading edge information technology and communications to help reduce costs – all a part of its long term strategic plan. We spoke with CEO Greg Skelton to get a better idea of what the future holds.

During times of need, philanthropy is a necessity. So during the Great Depression, backed by the support of community minded business people, the Presbyterian Church of Queensland’s Department of Social Mission was born. This department later became PresCare, and today it continues its mission to provide, through Christ’s love, a service ministry to all members of the community. The Hopetoun facility was one of PresCare’s first social missions, established in 1929. An Irish businessman by the name of WR Black donated two homes to the church. The homes – Hopetoun in Oxley/Corinda and Stonehaven in Chelmer – began the great ministry of the Presbyterian Church in the aged care sector.

Currently PresCare is in the process of redeveloping its former Hopetoun aged care facility into a state of the art retirement living and aged care community. This will be accomplished in six stages at a cost of $100 million. It will be known as Aurora, and “The company we are using for the demolition are experts in sustainable demolition,” explains Mr Skelton. “A large percentage of the site is being recycled.”

The construction of the first stage is due to commence in March 2013. Once completed, Aurora will feature 209 apartments and a 52 bed residential aged care facility. Included will be a wellness centre with consulting rooms for allied health professionals, a theatre, hairdressing salon, indoor swimming pool, sauna, billiards room, communal entertainment area, lounge, dining area and gym.

The Aurora facility will focus on delivering a holistic model of wellness. “We believe positive ageing is not just about clinical care, but social interactions, family and community, coupled with the security of receiving support from qualified health and care professionals,” says Mr Skelton. The apartments are designed to accommodate people as they age, allowing them to remain in their own homes receiving support services such as community care, home help, and a range of care packages. The residential aged care facility will provide excellence in transitional care, sub-acute care, dementia and palliative care services. “People living in our retirement village can continue to maintain developed relationships and visit their friends, providing support and love as needed.”

The company provides Community Care packages which help people to stay in their homes longer – for example, the Extended Aged Care at Home Packages (EACH) which provide high level care to people who need more than a Community Aged Care package can provide. PresCare also provides Home and Community Care (Allied Health and Personal Care), Veterans Home Care, and disability services which include but are not limited to Flexible Respite, Learning, and Life Skills Development. “The key aspect of community care packages is the emphasis on what the client wants and needs; it is all directed by their care needs. We meet and discuss with people and their families (after they have been assessed) to tailor service specifically for them.”

The landscape of aged care is changing rapidly. PresCare has conducted market research, trying to identify what accommodation options older Queenslanders desire, and this insight has given the company the opportunity to embrace the future by refining and enhancing the services it delivers. The aforementioned Aurora, in particular, will provide people with options as they age. “Typically what happens is as a person becomes older they start contemplating moving to a residential aged care facility,” says Mr Skelton. “This often means they leave their friends, established social networks, and activities and they have to start again. While our services provide support and assistance for people who need to do this, we want to be able to provide these services seamlessly. Aurora will allow us to do that.”

Increasingly, technology is also being used to optimise service delivery in the aged care industry. Information Technology and Communications can be utilised to share resources and reduce the often intangible costs associated with the training and support of accounting, payroll, purchasing, maintenance, nursing and care staff, and to consolidate services through a single help desk. “Applying technology to support more efficient and higher quality delivery in our services is paramount to PresCare.”

Currently the organisation employs the ‘Nursecall’ system. It is a wireless system that can monitor residents for their safety. Residents wear a wristband which is wirelessly linked to a central server and to DECT phones carried by the nurses. Future plans are to link this system to other care equipment, including floor and bed sensors. It is non-intrusive, and has been specially designed to integrate seamlessly into PresCare’s facilities, keeping residents safe whilst respecting their privacy.

“Recently our IT team adapted the system using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification),” explains Mr Skelton. “We had a person with advanced dementia, so an RFID tag was attached to their clothing. We are able to monitor movements at all times, without having to take more restrictive actions – creating a wander zone.”

PresCare has a long term strategic plan that has been influenced by the government’s ‘Living Longer, Living Better’ Aged Care reforms. The organisation, however, plans on going beyond the baseline standards, and has the goals of:

  • Significant growth in community health care and development of those services;
  • Amalgamations and mergers contributing to the growth of PresCare;
  • Regionalisation of services – promote regional growth as both a business framework and a service delivery mechanism, working closely with Medicare locals, and local health networks;
  • Grow and develop leaders at all levels of the business – flexible and adaptable people are needed in order to respond to the changing needs of clients;
  • Technology – Telehealth, Telecare, and Telemetry medicine and systems will be widely utilised, and;
  • Maintaining its mission to the church

Inherent in the aged care and retirement living sectors are a number of challenges to overcome. “The challenges for many service providers, especially not-for-profit, is moving from charitable and welfare backdrops to becoming economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. If we, the aged care industry, continue to operate with a welfare or charitable mindset, we risk becoming followers; to move forward we need to become leaders.” Other challenges include keeping up with the changes being implemented by the federal government, addressing staffing shortages, and maintaining financial viability.

PresCare of course needs to adequately staff its centres, but more important to the organisation is the kind of person taking on the job. “As a ministry for the Presbyterian Church, PresCare’s values are Christ centred. We look for people that can subscribe to those values,” says Mr Skelton. “We offer our service to all in the community that need our help. We expect our staff to respect the relationships that we build, to focus on performing to the best of their abilities, to commit to lifelong learning, and to demonstrate honesty and integrity in character.”

PresCare adheres to the Presbyterian ethic through the teachings of Christ, with a passion for God and a passion for people. For more than 80 years PresCare, as a ministry of the Presbyterian Church of Queensland, has been providing services to the elderly, people with disabilities and some of the most vulnerable in society. The needs associated with aged health care and retirement living are increasing, but PresCare plans on being there and expanding its services to meet this need. The good people of Queensland can consider themselves blessed to have such an organisation working for and with them.

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December 19, 2018, 5:14 AM AEDT