Change. Some say it’s as good as a holiday; others say it’s akin to psychological torture. Whatever your view, one thing is certain – if you work in the Community Sector, change isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And in my view, this change brings with it challenge, but also optimism.
In the NDIS space, we’re gearing up for a Disability Royal Commission and a review of the NDIS, while managing most states’ and territories’ transition to the national NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework. The NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission is now operating in all states and territories except for WA, and providers across the country are dealing with a mountain of operational changes resulting from a number of internal and external reviews of the NDIA and the Scheme’s operation.
On the Aged Care front, transition to the new Aged Care Quality Standards is consuming government and providers alike, as is responding to the fall out from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
Whilst there have been some insights into innovative and new ways of delivering aged care, sadly the main focus of the most recent hearings continues to reveal confronting stories of neglect. The main areas highlighted are:
- Ratios of staff-to-clients in residential facilities;
- The ‘Earle Haven’ case study in Queensland; and
- The potential breakdown in processes with the consolidation of aged care complaints and now Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission.
Amergin, too, is continuously evolving. This week, we have welcomed Grandall and Kelli (who we’ll introduce in more detail in future Agenda editions) to our Consulting team, led by Senior Consultant Sarah. This team will work closely together to continue to deliver quality NDIS and Aged Care Support to our clients. Senior Consultant Aynsley has become our Aged Care Manager, reflecting her wealth of expertise and experience in this area, and the breadth of work she is undertaking in this space on behalf of Amergin.
Existing Consultants Hannah and Lauren have moved into our new Everyday Practice team, which is responsible for implementing our successful NDIS Commission grant under the Support for NDIS Providers program. Hannah and Lauren will be developing a range of resources for the Everyday Practice website in collaboration with our partner Queenslanders with Disability Network(QDN) and Steering Committee members Community Resource Unit (CRU) and Richmond Fellowship Queensland (RFQ). They will also manage the site’s public forums and help desk. In addition, we recently welcomed Developer Jeff, who will support the back-end production and maintenance of the Everyday Practice website, forums and help desk. Don’t forget, you can register to receive updates on Everyday Practice.
Our Marketing Support Officer (and Amergin all-rounder) Ben has received a well-deserved promotion and is responsible for the delivery of a number of important initiatives across Amergin, amerginhub and Everyday Practice. And our Operations Manager Belinda and Accounts Manager Sue continue to provide vital behind-the-scenes support.
In light of these internal changes, we recently revisited our Mission, Vision and Values to ensure they align with the nature of support needed by our clients and the Community Sector more broadly, as well as our own strategic direction. I’m pleased to share them with you:
Amergin’s Vision is to drive change in the community sector, business and government to transform lives.
Amergin’s Mission is to be a Centre of Excellence in community services, with industry experts providing innovative end-to-end service solutions.
Amergin prides itself on and upholds the following values:
Credibility This is personal. We’ve been on the ground and we walk the talk of the community sector. We are passionate about inspiring best practice in community services. Our knowledge is kept up-to-date through our own direct experience, connection with industry and ongoing professional development. We help genuine community sector providers who want to deliver best practice services and make a positive impact in their industry.
Transparency We have integrity. We are upfront and honest. We are clear about what our clients can expect from us, the work we undertake and the advice we give. We provide genuine advice and choice to our clients and set realistic expectations about what we can and cannot do. We are collaborative, working in partnership with our clients so they are empowered to be the best community sector providers they can be.
Quality Amergin is a Centre of Excellence. We work collaboratively with clients, with other staff and with the industries we work in to ensure our knowledge, advice and service delivery is of the highest quality. We take a continuous improvement approach and go above and beyond to ensure all clients receive the best support possible. We are committed to supporting our clients to deliver high quality, best practice services, so in turn, they can transform the lives of the people they support. We are dedicated, committed and people-focused.
2019 was always going to be a big year for the sector, and no doubt, the changes will keep coming. In the face of this, Amergin will continue to adapt and grow, to make the most of new opportunities and to help our clients and the broader community sector ride the continuous waves of change. What won’t change however, is our dedicated focus on educating and empowering Australia’s community sector providers to deliver high quality and safe services to their clients.
On Sunday June 16, Amergin participated in the annual MS Brissie to Bay ride to help raise funds to support people living with MS and fund research to find a cure.
This year’s team consisted of 6 members who all completed the 100km leg of the journey:
- Anthony Gatehouse (Captain)
- Jeffrey Pumfrey
- Tarin Glazier
- Adam Johnson
- Joel Keenan
- Paul Mcandrew
The team managed to raise a total of $1573.87 which is the equivalent of 10 shower chair installations for people living with MS.
We’re all very much looking forward to next year’s event and a HUGE thank you to all of those who contributed a donation!
As we are on the approach to the halfway point of 2019, you’re likely to be frantically oiling your organisation’s engine, and trying to keep the pistons pumping hard enough to make it to a finish line that seems to get further and further away.
Why is this happening?
Generally, most businesses can handle one problem. However, it becomes much harder to manage when there’s multiple large issues while trying to get through ‘business as usual’.
Here’s some things that you’re likely facing at the moment:
- In uncertain times, trying to balance staff numbers with projected cash flow and demand for services;
- Preparing your internal quality systems for the mass migration of state and territory regulatory systems to the new NDIS Quality and Safeguards Framework happening July 2019;
- Finding time to apply for grants (or waiting on the outcome of ones that were supposed to be announced months ago);
- If you also deliver Aged Care services, surviving an Aged Care Royal Commission (currently preparing for Hearing 3) that continues to open more wounds and revealing gross systemic failures;
- Preparing for the inevitable Royal Commission into violence, neglect and abuse of people in the disability sector; and
- Retaining (good) staff. While this isn’t isolated to the community sector, more and more staff are disillusioned with their roles, salary and the growing entrepreneurial movement driving them to start their own businesses.
As a CEO or General Manager, what do you do?
For many of these things, you just have to keep across where you are up to/your strategies, and try to keep moving forward. Worrying won’t change it and making reactive decisions will most likely backfire and not consider the long-term direction for your organisation.
- As business leaders, sometimes all we need to do is listen before we speak. Go back to your Business Plan. Speak to your team. Speak with you customers. What do they say? You’ll often find the answers (or reassurance) from those who have a role to play in your success.Taking a more considered approach means your decisions will reflect a broader perspective and thus help you survive the above challenges (and any other ones) thrown at you.
- Prioritise. You can’t do everything, so do the 20% to get you the 80%. Delegate where appropriate to your staff and make sure accountability is central to your communication and processes.
- Manage change calmly. Change is an unavoidable fact of the community sector and chances are, if you’re experiencing these issues, so is your biggest competitor.
For more information on how we can help your organisation with the above challenges, get in contact with our team at Amergin.
Everyone deserves a bed to sleep in
Did you know that there are over 8,000 vulnerable people who sleep rough every night across Australia? That’s over 8,000 people that have to sleep on the street, on benches or under bridges with little to no protection from the elements.
Beddown looks to tackle this issue in an innovative and collaborative way, looking at the way our cities utilise spaces often left empty at night, as a safe and secure shelter for those in need.
Beddown is proposing to utilise ‘Pop-Up’ accommodation in carparks where bedding can be set up quickly and packed away just as fast. In addition, partnerships with other community services offering showers and laundry, food and beverages, clothing, health and wellbeing and outreach services will ensure longer term solutions.
Founder of Beddown, Norman McGillvray has a personal motivation for starting the company and it stems from his father’s story. In the early 70’s his father suffered a stroke including paralysis down the right side of his body. Several other personal issues including divorce from his wife then left Norm’s father homeless in the streets of London.
At the young age of 42 Norm’s father passed away from a heart attack, alone and with no support out on the street. Experiencing this so very close-to-home has meant that Norm has a personal passion for wanting “do some good” in his community and through Beddown impact as many people as possible.
Norm’s initial goal is to raise start-up funds to support the business and gather much needed resources. Whilst Beddown have already secured the support of Secure Parking, Australia and New Zealand’s largest car park operator, they are still in need of inflatable beds and other supports.
Beddown’s GoFundMe page allows members of the community to donate towards a worthy cause and make a difference to the lives of our vulnerable.
For more information about Beddown click here.
“We want to develop a positive workplace culture”. I know what you are thinking, ‘thank u, next’…but please stick with me. No matter the sector you work in, we have all heard this line before. So what is a positive workplace culture and how can your employees love their culture as much as Kanye loves Kanye?
Workplace Culture is your ‘9 to 5’, it is what surrounds you each day. It is your physical environment, the relationships with your co-workers and management team as well as your work processes.
Positivity is so important in all aspects of your culture including the way you communicate with staff. No one likes a grumpy colleague, ‘don’t look back in anger’ during your office “good mornings”.
Positive Culture all begins with the personalities, skills and values that lay within your prospective employees. When your company is looking at recruiting, reflect upon not only the type of professional experience you wish your new employee to have, but also their own personal values. Do these values align with the company values? Will they fit in with your team or will they kill your vibe?
Culture goes beyond employee perks. While everybody loves free coffee and cake at team meetings – long term support, consistency and appreciation are often more highly valued. Some companies determine their team values through team buildings days. These can be as simple as a round table discussion or as elaborate as a trip on a ‘big jet plane’. Either way, employees will appreciate that you want and value their input into the company, including what may make their day that little bit easier or strategies to deal with a tricky client.
Your squad wants to know that you have got their back and that there won’t be any ‘bad blood’ if they make a mistake or have questions. I asked a fellow colleague what they valued most in the workplace, the answer was “to be able to go to anyone when I have a question and to not feel like I am silly for asking it”. Essentially, an open door policy. Nobody wants to feel like they can’t ask a question or that they are working within a ‘mad world’ where everyone is too busy to help.
Consistency is key, as is communication. We all know that feeling when there is a ‘careless whisper’ going around the office. It creates negativity and staff are at risk of being taken over by fear, which then impacts their work productivity. Regular updates about changes within the company allow all staff to be in the loop.
Employees value ‘R.E.S.P.E.C.T’ and appreciation. This reinforces that you trust your staff and believe in them. Employers often remind staff of tasks they may need further knowledge on or critique their work but forget to reinforce the small wins and hard work from their employees.
Workplace Culture is about all staff (from the Management Team to the Administration Staff) creating a ‘we are the champions’ attitude, upholding those values and keeping each other accountable to continue to be positive – even on those days when you are feeling like 2007 Britney Spears.
Amergin celebrates International Women’s Day and shines a spotlight on our own strong female lead – Director Christine Dempsey
Since 1908 women have taken to the streets, fundraised in their workplaces and had open conversations about how best we can join voices and spread the message of equal rights for all.
Whilst we have come a long way since that first march in the streets of New York, it still remains pertinent to celebrate the achievements of women whether social, political, economic or cultural – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.
This month Amergin are shining a spotlight on and celebrating the exceptional work our Director Christine Dempsey has contributed to our sector, and the positive impact she has had as a mentor and support for other women in the corporate sector to strive for balance in business.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is about #BalanceforBetter! Whilst we celebrate all women in all their diversities, the race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom and Christine is the passionate force within Amergin to keep this at the forefront.
Whilst statistics show that 26.6% of CEO’s/Directors/Board Members are now females, nearly 50% of major companies still have no women in executive management roles at all.
The value of female leadership can increase overall business performance and create stable revenue, increase returns on investments and enable less unpredictable profit margins.
Whilst Amergin have been successful in business for approx. 8 years, with the inclusion of Director Christine in 2014, Amergin have been able to further excel and transform Amergin’s support to the community and disability sector as an innovative and visionary business that genuinely cares.
Fellow Directors Anthony and Tony describe Christine as “fiercely dedicated and determined” and explain that she is “an extremely passionate leader with an unrivalled drive to motivate, educate and inspire both staff and clientele alike”.
Whilst Christine displays her knowledge and experience daily, she is always looking to grow and even reach beyond her potential through daily professional and personal development activities. Christine believes in “taking everyone along the journey together” in business – creating that balance amongst not only the sexes but also the hierarchy. She wants the business to experience success but also those she mentors to also share in that success. Christine explains that being an impactful and balanced leader means, “supporting and encouraging all team members to feel passionate about what they do and to love what they do. I want to help them find ways to grow themselves and not simply lead from the top of an Ivory Tower; I want to pursue our dreams together”.
Christine is also encouraging for other females around her to never doubt their worth in working environments, and to “back themselves” as formidable and strong females that should be recognised for their worth, regardless of their position in the corporate food chain.
Christine has played a pivotal role in the success of many NDIS and Aged Care businesses, the expansion of Amergin as a business and its team, and the improvement of care offered to those most vulnerable in our community.
Amergin would like to extend a sincere THANK YOU to our strong female lead Christine for all that she contributes to the business and the sector; creating awareness and educating fellow women in the workplace to step-up to their leading role. Amergin would also like to acknowledge the additional Amergin team of female staff and the passionate work they do each day.
For more information about International Women’s Day events in your area or about the #BalanceforBetter movement, please visit https://iwda.org.au/
**share your ‘balance’ image and use the hashtag #BalanceforBetter to spread awareness of this year’s International Women’s Day campaign.
With many businesses looking to kick their services off in 2018, it’s important that all registered disability service providers understand their obligations under Australian law. The ACCC have released a guide to help providers understand their rights and responsibilities.
The word ‘consultant’ elicits images of a well-dressed, officious, impersonal business person licking their lips at the prospect of charging exorbitant hourly rates to those who come knocking. Is this really the case with consultants in 2017 or just a perception spilling over from the 90’s / 00’s when consultants were a dime a dozen, making choosing a consultant even more difficult?
Thanks to the advancements in communication (including social media and portable technology) immoral and unscrupulous businesses can’t get away with what they used to — particularly in the community sector where it’s all about people and relationships.
Remember, consultants are people coming into your business from the outside with a specific expertise to help you achieve your goals. So, it’s not just about whether they will deliver on their promises, it’s also about making sure they are the right fit so you can work effectively with them.
Nevertheless, it’s essential to do your homework so you get what you need from a consultancy relationship to ensure you maximise value, service and desired outcome.
Detailed below is what you should expect (and demand) when you engage any consultant to support you and your business.
Choosing a Consultant
Consulting in the community sector is all about people just as it is for the service providers who provide direct support to people across Australia. As with any relationship, it’s important to find a good match and work with an organisation who understands you, your business and what you’re trying to achieve.
We’ve heard some horror stories from clients who have experienced negative, costly support from consultants and ended up receiving poor service with a less than ideal outcome. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:
- Ask them how long have they been operating for?
- Ask yourself whether they understand your needs?
- Ask to speak with some clients. Did they have a good experience / outcome?
- Check the fine print in the contract. Do you have any built-in assurances?
- Will they be accountable?
One of the most important factors that will shape a successful consultant outcome is structured communication. Having an ongoing dialogue ensures that expectations are clear and timelines are met. Working in partnership will always get you a better outcome than someone just ‘developing documentation’.
Every business offers different pricing, services and value. Do your research and make sure you’re not comparing apples with oranges. Value is often built into your experience and process that will support your best outcome. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for.
Check their credentials, website and history – make sure everything checks out, be comfortable with what they stand for and that you are inspired with confidence.
If you’ve gone through this process and you’ve ticked the boxes, you can move forward with some level of confidence. Remember, it’s your business and it’s up to you to look after it.
You’ve registered your business name, received your ABN, developed a business plan and taken all of the necessary steps to start providing your products or services to the public. So what’s next? How do you start building a reliable sales pipeline and ultimately, get new clients to help sustain your business, and grow it, too?
How do I get new clients?
Surprisingly, this is one question we hear time and time again. More often than not, it’s this question that is pushed to the back of the pile while the short term focus of building a new business takes priority. But, what about the long term? The countless hours and tireless efforts that have been invested often go to waste when a new business goes to market, and more often than not, it’s because the long term goals haven’t been considered. You could have the perfect business plan in place – you’ve identified your niche, established a point of difference, have a great understanding of your competitors, hired any support staff you require and now there’s nothing left to do but start. Unfortunately, getting clients isn’t as easy as some startup business operators think. It takes time, dedication and, yes, financial investment to attain new clients and customers. So, where do you start?
1. Start by talking
Tell people what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Know your target market and go where they go to network – events, conferences, meetups and expos are great places to kick things off. Check out Eventbrite if you’re short on ideas or want to find upcoming events in your area. Despite the technologically driven environment we live in, face to face communication and good ol’ fashioned word of mouth are still some of the best marketing assets you can have to develop relationships and attain new clients.
2. Get a website
Building relationships in person is great, but what else can you do to get new clients on board? Once you’ve established rapport, where do you send your potential customers to take the next step? It’s astounding how many small businesses still operate without an active online presence – whether that be through a website or other online channels such as social media. Taking your business online is hands down one of the best investments a small business can make. Not only do you now have an easily accessible destination to send potential clients, it offers a platform to outline your services and pricing and explain to potential customers why they should choose your business over your competitors. With the ability to add customised forms and develop content specifically tailored to the needs of your target audience, your website is often your first port of call for customers looking for the products or services you offer and allows the opportunity for you to collect and gather their details for further marketing opportunities.
3. Invest in Advertising
You might have heard of a little thing called Google. Okay, let’s be honest – it’s pretty big. In fact, it accounts for approximately 90% of all search traffic, with the remaining 10% spread across the smaller search engines such as Yahoo! and Bing. With this much traffic attributed to Google, you can imagine that competition to appear on the first results page is fierce at best. Doing so takes time, an optimised website and a bit of trial and error, but with dedication it is certainly achievable. In the short term however, there are alternative solutions such as Google Adwords, which allow you to place paid ads in search results for specific keywords or search terms. Not only will this give your business instant visibility in Google, but the additional click throughs to your website will help build credibility and in turn your website’s’ organic reach. True to the old adage of ‘You’ve got to spend money to make money’, posting ads will require a financial investment, however with the correct strategy in place, has the potential to yield considerable reward.
Over to you
As you can see, it takes time, dedication and financial investment to attract new clients. With that said, if you take the time to understand your market and put in place the appropriate steps to help reach them, you’re well on your way to building your database and generating a healthy sales pipeline.
Get a professionally designed and built website for $0 upfront* and start driving customer growth. Each package comes with 12 months of ongoing support.
Becoming a Provider under the Australian Aged Care System
Like most things in Australia’s political sphere, the media’s focus is generally directed toward those issues, initiatives, and people that offer a controversial or contentious story for the next day’s headlines.
The NDIS has certainly provided such a platform, which has seen sustained media coverage, from its inception through to now where the Scheme’s rollout is well underway across the country.
There is no doubt that the NDIS will be a great system for Australians with a permanent or severe disability. It replaces an archaic, unfair and fragmented disability system that left Australians with disability little, with regard to choice and control, to improve their quality of life.
It must be said however that the ongoing teething issues emerging as the Scheme rolls out are proving to be problematic for both participants and disability service providers respectively. These issues range from poor communication to pricing to poorly constructed participant plans.
Aged Care Provider Opportunity
However, as the relevant Government agencies look to knock these issues into place and drive the Scheme forward, there is another Scheme that is quietly experiencing its own evolution – the Australian Aged Care system.
Like the NDIS, Aged Care Home Care has shifted toward a person centred, or ‘consumer-directed care’ model – meaning people over 65 will get more choice and flexibility as to how they choose and receive these services.
These reforms began in 2012 and are part of a 3-phased process that will stretch out over 10 years. Like the NDIS, the transformation of the Aged Care sector is presenting a huge opportunity for businesses looking to deliver aged care services like Home Care. With Australia’s ageing population, the demand for these services is steadily increasing – a plus for providers looking to deliver quality, innovative services to Australians over 65.
If you would like to find out more about becoming an Aged Care Provider, download our free information guide and learn how we can assist in navigating the process.
Becoming an Approved Aged Care Provider can be a time-consuming and complex process. Get your free guide today!