Wellbeing for All


For almost 50 years, SummitCare has supported many thousands of families through its residential aged care, respite services and – most recently – home care.

But as Chief Executive Officer Cynthia Payne points out, SummitCare is all about promoting wellbeing. “Individuals are at the centre of everything we do, and we aim to support their physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs,” she says. “To us, that is what wellbeing is all about for our clients receiving care at home, for our residential clients in our centres and for our staff.”

Following extensive research and feedback over the past two years, this focus has been formalised and integrated into SummitCare’s new brand – Warmth Worth Wellbeing.

Wellbeing is also a focus of the Australian Government’s Living Longer Living Better reform agenda and the latest societal expectations of consumer-directed aged care. Cynthia says SummitCare goes beyond this: already a customer-centric organisation, its warmth, worth and wellbeing approach enhances its quality assurance and delivers a care model with wellbeing at its core. This enables consumers to have more care choices.

“In this way we focus on supporting wellbeing, which is different for each person at any given time in their journey,” she says. “This is a very exciting and dynamic time for SummitCare.”

Journey of Growth

Beginning as Wohl Management Group in 1966 with a centre in Randwick, in Sydney’s east, SummitCare is a well-regarded residential aged care provider. Its portfolio currently contains nine centres throughout the Sydney and Newcastle areas. Most recently it expanded to include SummitCare HomeCare, starting in-home support services last July.

It is an important evolution for the organisation, which made history last year when it became the first aged care provider to receive gold in the Australian Business Excellence Awards.

“Our scope has broadened considerably,” says Cynthia. “And that’s only made it more important to us to focus all our energies around wellbeing, the worth of the individual and enablement.”

In order to make these elements central to its programs, SummitCare has embraced an organic approach beginning with a literature review on wellbeing and quality of life, and how that accorded with its processes.

Led initially by Dr Irene Stein, the process then incorporated focus groups, workshops and informal discussions to create a vision and robust model of care that enhanced wellbeing. A steering committee comprising SummitCare staff from all work categories analysed the impact of the change of focus from care and medical practices to looking at consumers in a holistic sense.

“The committee then came up with a Wellbeing Framework, determining how processes could change to fit within it, and exploring our future as a wellbeing-focused organisation,” Cynthia says.

The next stage involved unveiling the comprehensive Wellbeing Framework to SummitCare staff. It includes a focus on five key attributes of wellbeing: optimal health, meaningful activities, personal preferences, personal relationships and environment.

A roadshow was held at all residential centres to present the values and wellbeing strategy, with SummitCare’s senior leadership team discussing the organisation’s journey and legislative changes.

“We are very conscious of ensuring our staff receive clear communication at all times, and this framework was an important change for our staff,” Cynthia says. “It was vital that they had the chance to understand the warmth, worth, wellbeing approach and ask questions as this impacts the delivery of care. Everything we do is about ensuring that emotional, social and physical wellbeing is paramount.”

Under the wellbeing approach, SummitCare compiles a profile of a client based on a wellbeing assessment. This is then used to develop a support plan for the consumer. “This is not a static process,” Cynthia says. “Consumers’ needs and preferences change, so our wellbeing support plan will also evolve to ensure we can meet these changing needs.”

Support for All

Importantly, the warmth, worth and wellbeing approach is not just about clients. It also focuses on SummitCare staff members as people with personal preferences and individual interests.

Already the organisation hosts a Wellbeing Week each year when staff can focus on their own wellbeing needs through dietary education, alternative therapies, professional development and other activities. It celebrates their successes with a comprehensive awards program, provides employee assistance programs and ensures career paths are optimised through regular education and job opportunities.

Fostering staff wellbeing is anticipated to have a ripple effect, further bolstering client wellbeing. Staff also have regular reminders of wellbeing behaviours, including signage throughout the workplace, brochures and pocket cards they carry outlining the Wellbeing Framework.

“We want them to live out wellbeing in all they do, and we want to provide the tools to help them get there,” Cynthia says. “We also want them to continue to bring to life our values of warmth and worth, ensuring our services are heartfelt and warm, and the worth of every individual is valued.

“These changes have had a significant impact on staff. We continue to have enormous support from the team for what we are doing.”

The wellbeing rollout will continue from here, with steering committee members championing the Wellbeing Framework, promoting its structure and leading by example. Every decision that is made by SummitCare, and every document produced, is reviewed to ensure it fits into the wellbeing framework and also addresses the other key values of warmth and worth.

Overall, the wellbeing approach is an important key in assuring SummitCare’s continued success as it readies itself for the next 50 years, according to Cynthia.

“Everyone at SummitCare recognises that moving to an era of consumer-directed care and delivering service excellence with wellbeing at the core means moving to a higher level of customer focus – they know that and they are already acting in innovative ways to make that happen,” she says.

“We are focused on owning the wellbeing space and planning for a strong future. It has renewed our care focus, and I have no doubt we will succeed.”

For more information about Summitcare, please visit http://www.summitcare.com.au/

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December 19, 2018, 5:14 AM AEDT