There is said to be an old Chinese proverb, “may you live in interesting times”. Indeed, for those of us involved in aged care, the 2019 year was interesting.
Firstly, it heralded a Commission into our industry. Secondly, new quality standards were released during the year, thirdly the sector has been subjected to intense media scrutiny during the year. Lastly, the industry is lacking direction while waiting for certainty around funding sources. Now let me take these developments one at a time as they relate to BlueWave Living.
The Royal Commission asked all aged care facilities to send a submission detailing standard of care going back to 2013. This, of course, was a big ask of our team to search the records over that time frame. They did, however, rise to the task, and our submission was sent on time. Readers will not be surprised by the findings that the quality of care at BlueWave has been consistently excellent.
The next issue is the new quality standards. As with any significant change, it has been a big undertaking to understand and bed down a new quality and auditing system. Another big ask of the team. I do, however, believe the new system will be good for BlueWave Living. The new system asks us to put the resident or consumer at the heart of everything we do. I believe this is what we have always done at BlueWave Living. There will, of course, be new reports to produce and new ways of auditing however the fundamental belief of having the resident at the core of what we do is not new to BlueWave Living and hence we are already ahead of the standards.
The next issue is the necessary media attention to our industry. We have all seen some disturbing images on our television screens and in the media generally. Please be aware this is happening in some parts of the industry; however, it is not typical for the industry and certainly has not and will not occur at BlueWave Living. How do I know this will not happen here? It is about culture. I understand and trust that not only the senior management team, but the whole team at BlueWave Living would intervene and take action if they witnessed a staff member who lacked in empathy for a resident. This is our best defence against poor treatment of residents.
Lastly let me speak about the financing of the industry. Stewart-Brown, accountants specialising in Aged Care, reports that some 53% of residential aged care providers are making a loss from operations. Something will need to be done to change the funding mechanism for aged care. Cutting costs would result in poor care for residents. This is not acceptable to anyone. The industry will wait on the Royal Commission to suggest new funding mechanisms.
I am pleased to say that here at BlueWave Living we can produce a surplus. This is due to the savings that past boards and managers have passed on to us and BlueWave being slightly more adventurous in the investment of our funds. At the recommendation of the CEO, we have moved from investing only in term deposits to now investing some funds in investment-grade bonds. Investment-grade bonds are very safe but do offer some higher return than term deposits. I commend the reading of the financials to you. Given the situation in the industry, we have produced a strong result.
The board has been able to use this strong result to continue to invest in IT, increased staff roster cover and improvement of the buildings. We have also used the year to set the groundwork to bring the two facilities onto one title and one RAC number. We are also well on the way to planning for a renovation of BlueWave Living that will bring our buildings up to date and offer some of the best residential aged care accommodation on the coast.
I must also speak of the excellent team here at BlueWave Living. One of the directors recently commented that the staff are awesome. I would have to agree.
Matthew Downie has now had time to settle in as CEO and continues to lead a united team while keeping up with the many changes to the industry. It is a big task, and the board thank him for the efforts.
Cathy Allen led the administration team and had a significant workload due to the Royal Commission and changing standards. Thank you for your excellent administration. Helen Rogerson is our in-house accountant. We keep throwing changes at Helen, such as new accounting software and changes in investment policy. Somehow, she keeps up. Thank you, Helen.
Kathy Murphy and the clinical team have had to implement the new standards while continuing the day to day work of caring for our residents. This has been a big year; however, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and due to the team’s diligent work, we seem to now be all over the new standards. Thank you and congratulations. Although occurring past the date this report covers, I must mention Elsie Mari, who has become registered as a nurse practitioner. This will enable BlueWave to give even better clinical care to our residents. Congratulations Elsie.
There are, of course, many other staff members at BlueWave, from those who cook the meals, or staff the laundry or keep the place clean. All of you are important to BlueWave and the care of the residents; the board would like to acknowledge all of you.
Lastly, let me acknowledge the board members. Jo Hanlon, our vice Chairperson, serves on the medication committee and the HR committee. David Hook uses his expertise in building for our building committee. Paul Tonkin is our legal advisor. John Frost, our very busy treasurer and member of the investment committee. Ruth Collins is our longest serving board member and is our only founding board member still serving. Ruth advises the board on furnishings and importantly is our connection between the board and the residents. Ian Winn joined our board during the year. He is already making a significant contribution on the HR, and finance committees. Graham Kenney stood down from the board this year due to family commitments. I thank everyone on the board for their input and hard work during the year. It is truly an honour to lead such an all-star board.
Chairman, BlueWave Living