It has been a highly positive and rewarding year for Southern Cross Care (NSW & ACT). Our staff and volunteers have continued to put all their heart and effort into supporting the thousands of residents and clients across our network of Retirement Villages, Home Care services and Residential Care homes, helping them to live with purpose and dignity and enjoy their lives to the full.
Caring for our planet and people
In June, we joined the Catholic Church’s Laudato Si' Action Platform, which takes its name from a letter by Pope Francis encouraging everyone to live more sustainably. As part of this commitment we have set bold new targets including sourcing more than 25 per cent of electricity from renewable energy sources, reducing energy consumption by 20 per cent, and reducing waste by 15 per cent.
A journey of reconciliation
This year, we committed to developing a Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) to better understand and respond to the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Driven by our values of empathy, acceptance, and respect, the RAP will provide a strategic, long-term framework for us to take meaningful and lasting action to advance reconciliation for First Nations Australians.
Our staff and teams celebrated a number of successes this year, demonstrating their commitment to providing high-quality care and supporting the wellbeing of residents and clients.
Recreational Therapy Advisor Rachel Askew won the Future of Ageing's Emerging Leader Award, which recognised her innovative approach, commitment to excellence, and leadership.
We were a finalist of the Future of Ageing Awards in the Technology (Health and Wellbeing) category, for our successful pilot of ‘Hippo headsets’ — a hands-free, voice-activated device allowing staff to connect with experts remotely to receive clinical and care advice. SCC was the first aged care provider in the world to adopt this solution from Hippo Technologies and remains the only aged care provider in Australia to use the technology.
Another award went to our Orana Residential Care home at Deniliquin, which took out the 2023 Murrumbidgee Primary Healthcare Award in Innovation for their intergenerational program, which has helped bring the community together and reduce loneliness.
Engagement and Purposeful Living Manager Jacqueline Quirke was awarded a prestigious fellowship with the International Specialised Skills Institute for her leading work in enhancing the journey of ageing across the continuum of care and community living.
Throughout 2023 we also honoured our teams’ vital role in enriching the lives of our residents, clients, and their families with several celebrations including Aged Care Employee Day, National Carers’ Week and International Nurses Day.
Innovation and partnership
We were excited this year to partner with Guide Physiotherapy Services to support our dedicated Mobility, Exercise and Engagement Support Officers (MEEs), who work on fall prevention and deliver exercise programs, pain therapies and care planning.
We also teamed up with the University of Canberra and the ACT’s primary health group, Capital Health Network, to trial having a fully funded pharmacist work at some of our Residential Aged Care homes. The trial showed that having a pharmacist on site improved outcomes and enabled our registered nurses to provide higher-quality clinical care for residents. We are now looking at how this model of care could be extended across our network.
Other highlights included working with CSIRO to explore smart home, technology-enabled safer living for older persons living independently, and partnering with medication management provider BestMed, clinical pharmacist service provider Choice Aged Care and Macquarie University to integrate a new data automation system in all our Residential Aged Care homes.
We’ve also formed a partnership with University of Sydney (HIRAID) on best practice for managing clinical changes and were awarded an Aged Care Research and Industry Innovation Australia grant in partnership with Queensland University of Technology and Automation for Humanity for their Sit & Shower automatic bathing device for residents in aged care homes.
Our successful pilot of the Hippo Headset to assist in removing barriers to access specialised consultants has led to a commitment to roll these out across all our sites. We thank our partner Local Public Health Networks PHNs, including Capital Health Network, Murrumbidgee, Western Sydney and Central Coast, who awarded us with grants to support our access to this emerging technology which is being rolled out across our sites.
Milestones and new developments
The refurbishment of two new cottages at Marian Residential Care in North Parramatta was completed in June and is now being enjoyed by residents and their families. The design is based on the “household” building model, complemented by our model of care and engagement facilitated by specialised staff. The redevelopment of our St Catherine's home in Grafton is now complete and will offer a welcoming, contemporary purpose-built home for 84 residents in the community.
In tandem with our ongoing commitment to providing high quality person-centred care, we invited residents, Home Care clients and their representatives to Participate in a Consumer Advisory Body (CAB) for Residential Care and Home Care, which commenced in November. The CAB will improve the quality of our services, sites and systems by providing direct feedback to our senior management and our Board.
The quality of these systems and services—and the unwavering dedication of our staff—was also highlighted by the re-accreditation this year of all our Residential Aged Care homes by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission. The Commission conducts regular audits, and we continue to demonstrate excellence in compliance.
Looking forward to the year ahead
Our achievements in 2023 would not have been possible without the hard work and commitment of our exceptional staff and volunteers, and the generosity of our donors and sponsors. Thank you to everyone who contributed this year, and most especially to our residents and clients, who are the reason for everything we do. We look forward to continuing to work for you over the year ahead.