Respect for the Past, Planning for the Future

Maurice Zeffert Home

“Care is about their well-being, their inner soul, and what they have been for the last 70 years; it’s not what they are now,” says Dr Michael Preece, the Chief Executive Officer at Maurice Zeffert Home. “They are still the same person; they are still a dentist, a doctor, an accountant, a mom, a dad, so that needs to continue, and we support that. That’s what we strive for, and that’s what we exist for and has been our strength for the past 51 years – the best of the past to build the future.”

Since he took over as CEO in April of this year, Dr Preece has introduced a number of positive, forward-looking changes to the Home. With a strong focus on the future, Dr Preece’s leadership has proven to be a strong motivator to all residents and their families, staff, volunteers, and members of the community. Prior to coming to the Jewish Aged Care Facility, Dr Preece served in Australia’s health care field in a variety of management and senior operational roles, including risk, human resource management, as a director of nursing of private hospitals, and as a manager of aged care facilities. With his doctorate a blend of business and aged care, Dr Preece and 150 staff members provide much more than aged care; they offer a safe, comfortable, and inviting environment where residents are encouraged to maintain their religion and observances.

“The Jewish faith has very strong traditions and laws, and we follow those strictly,” says Dr Preece. “Because we follow and observe the faith strictly, it enables our elderly community members to continue to be who they are. By going into our facility and being cared for in that environment, it is the same as they’ve always lived their life. It helps substantially with their well-being. There’s no conflict.” Along with its own synagogue, on-site Rabbi, and Jewish staff on hand to assist non-Jewish employees, Maurice Zeffert Home maintains multiple kitchens for Kosher food, which allows residents to maintain traditions as they have their entire lives. Diets can be modified if necessary during certain festivals, and the Home’s goal of treating all residents as individuals has many positive benefits.

A Tradition of Caring

Funded primarily through the Australian Government’s Department of Health and Ageing, along with donations and hundreds of members who pay a nominal amount, the Maurice Zeffert Home is the only Jewish Aged Care facility in Perth offering a truly haimish lifestyle. The Home came about to fill a need in the community. With successful fundraising beginning in the 1950s, the Perth Jewish Aged Home Society – as it was originally known – opened in 1961 to offer aged care facilities to members of the city’s Jewish community.

For over half a century, the Home has remained an integral part of the Perth community, providing not only superb care for the community’s aged residents, but serving to enhance the quality of their lives and those of their families.

Much of the Home’s success and growth over the years has come from its outstanding, positive engagement with Perth’s Jewish community, whose members often provide financial support and volunteer their time. “The more you engage the community, the greater the feel is,” says Dr Preece. “The bottom line is community. It’s all-encompassing, it’s engaging, it’s fantastic, and it brings smiles to our faces every day when you see the amount of engagement the families and the community have with this place. It’s referred to as The Home by the community – their home.”

Respect for Elders

Providing quality care at the Maurice Zeffert Home brings with high expectations from residents, families, and the broader community when it comes to delivery of services. There is always room for improvement, and staff members are open to input and suggestions from community members and residents’ families. Along with undertaking regular meetings to discuss how care is to be provided, the organisation is about to embark on a Care of Recognition Action Group – CRAG for short – with representatives from each area, and family members to guide them on how care is to be delivered.

In the Jewish tradition, there is a special mitzvah known as Hiddur Pnai Zaken, which means respect for elders. At the Home, all seniors are treated with dignity and respect in an environment which is safe, comfortable, provides loving care, and embraces the timeless values of Jewish culture and conventions. Many residents do not have familial or financial support, and are unable to meet the increasingly high cost of accommodation, facilities and professional care at the level the Home believes is the right of every elderly member of Perth’s Jewish community.

To meet the needs of all residents, the Home provides a wide range of care services, including independent living, residential care, nursing care, and dementia care. To ensure the well-being of all, the Home maintains a large and dedicated staff of registered and specialist nurses and therapists, and is supported by a number of doctors and specialists. While the Home will arrange doctors and take residents to medical appointments if necessary, residents are encouraged to maintain their existing network of general practitioners, specialists, and hospitals, since they are already familiar with them.

Planning for the Future

The process of admission to the Maurice Zeffert Home is two-fold. For Residential Aged Care, all prospective residents are required to have governmental approval before entering any aged care facility, and need to make an appointment with their local Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT) to independently access their suitability for residential care. A free service available from most Area Health Services, the assessment requires a general practitioner or hospital referral; Maurice Zeffert Home’s Social Worker is available to advise on how to organise the ACAT Assessment. Prospective residents can request an Application Pack by contacting reception at (08) 9375 4600, and once completed and returned, prospective residents and interested family members are invited to meet the Social Worker to discuss the process and address any questions or concerns. Additional documents, including ACAT information, an Asset assessment information booklet, Planning for the Future Guide and more are available for download at

As with any aged care facility, there can be a waiting period before a space becomes available, and placements are prioritised on the basis of individual need. As the local community ages, the waiting list of prospective residents who may wish to enter the Home or require services in the next few years has understandably grown. “We’re starting to track who’s out there, who needs care, who may need care, and maintain contact with them, so that it doesn’t get to an emergency,” says Dr Preece of individuals in the community who will likely require care in the next two or three years. By engaging in discussions with large at-home service providers to bundle care programmes, the Home is better equipped to know more about persons in the community and the services they will need, and can work to create an avenue to get them admitted to the Home. “The future is very, very high on our agenda.”

The degree of care offered by the Maurice Zeffert Home depends on the physical and mental state of the individual. For independent living, there is the Sir Zelman & Lady Cowan Retirement Village. Offering 55 two and three-bedroom villa units, residents of the village are fully independent, and have access to all facilities of the Home. In residential care, there is the Carl & Sadie Cohen Hostel, which provides an assisted living environment while promoting an optimum level of independence and an active lifestyle for individual, low-care accommodation for 35 permanent residents. All single rooms in the Hostel have en-suites in five modules, or houses, each fully equipped with a kosher kitchen (milk), dining room, lounge area and laundry.

The highest level of care is available at the David, Gita & Michael Hoffman Nursing Home. At the Nursing home, there are three modules which accommodate a total of 35 residents, and cater to residents who are physically dependent or frail and require 24 hour nursing care. Accommodation is offered in either single or shared rooms each with its own en-suite bathroom. Fully equipped with laundry, kosher kitchen (milk), family room, lounge and spa bath, the Nursing Home also features a formal dining room, available for family meals and small parties.

At the Toby & Maurice Zeffert Special Care Centre, up to 16 residents with dementia are accommodated in an environment which is safe, friendly, and equipped and staffed to ensure that persons living with dementia are embraced in a culture that allows them to thrive. At the Special Care Centre, accommodation is provided in single rooms with en-suite bathrooms, and to make residents feel more comfortable, the dining room, lounges, and garden areas are designed to create a sense of familiarity and security.

Allied Health Services

Along with providing outstanding medical care, the Maurice Zeffert Home offers its residents access to a wide range of allied health services which help to improve body, mind, and soul. These include physiotherapy, occupational therapy, podiatry, social work support and counselling, and music therapy. To promote independence among its residents, the Home also offers a modern hairdressing salon and a large central laundry facility. In addition, the Home is located just a short distance from a large shopping centre, which residents are able to visit through a weekly bus transport service, and in addition to its own internal library, residents can take advantage of the City of Stirling Mobile Library, which makes regular visits.

No matter which level of care is required, the Maurice Zeffert Home has turned its focus on understanding the needs of individuals, and has increased clinical and other staffing where needed to meet the needs of individuals. “What that has done is grow our ability to react to changing needs so we’re not just one service for 86 people, we’re one service for 86 different people, and that’s how we’ll be able to meet the needs of the future,” says Dr Preece.

For the past 51 years, the Maurice Zeffert Home has held a unique place in the hearts of many in Perth. “It is a unique place in that it belongs to the community, and it is here for the community. It is part of a structure for the community, and not about profit, but about care.”

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 19, 2018, 5:13 AM AEDT