I hope and pray you’re doing well.
I wanted to reach out and wish you all the very best for the Christmas and New Year period.
As a company we’ve recently made the big move to celebrating Christmas all together in July, and this year we hosted our inaugural winter drinks and celebrated staff in each region.
And we will keep doing that annually, in particular acknowledging our debt of gratitude to all of you, and especially those of you who have really put in the hard yards in terms of your years of service with us as a Company.
We really can’t say enough how incredibly thankful we are for each and every one of you and the millions of ways you have contributed to our success…
…in what has been another enormous year of change, and pressure, and rising to the bar to meet the challenges head on…
…another very difficult year of just dog gone hard work in each of our roles, just to stay afloat in this industry and keep up with the pace of change.
I know that in addition to what you face every day when you come to work, you also, like every one of us, face your own personal highs and lows as well…
…we’re all human and we all have to come to work and put our heads down while also going through our own personal life demands and challenges…
…and let’s be honest – these can add incredibly to the pressure of ‘keeping on keeping on’ and staying strong, staying focused and doing our very best each day.
And I am no exception to that! Not at all.
Among so much else, this year I found out I have progressive Multiple Sclerosis.
And like many people, I said to myself: “That’s the last thing I need. One more thing, on top of everything else: I’ve got to face this as well!”
To be honest it was a little bit of a shock and took a bit to process as I came to terms with what it all means.
But, you know, after a number of weeks of totally overloading myself with everything YouTube can tell me about primary progressive MS, I began to realise something…
The only reason why I was struggling so much was because of my ‘expectations!’
Of course, I wasn’t expecting to face this difficulty and this challenge.
Actually, I was expecting the opposite; I was expecting to coast; I was expecting the status quo.
If I’m really honest, I was subconsciously expecting to ‘have it easy,’ so to speak.
I was expecting – for some strange reason – to be one of the lucky ones who just sails through mid-life fairly ‘scot-free, as it were.
In other words, my expectations were high.
Expectations are such a powerful thing, both positively and negatively.
They can help or hinder.
They can be useful or useless.
My expectations were high in a way that was incredibly unhelpful.
What would be actually helpful would be if I lowered my expectations.
Rather than expecting to be part of the 1% who gets lucky, why on earth shouldn’t I expect difficulties and struggles and things to be really challenging.
Why should I expect things to be ‘normal’? Where do those expectations come from?
To be frank, lowering expectations is a process that can take time and be difficult.
But the huge benefit of adjusting my expectations, was that I could then start adjusting the way I had been thinking and feeling and acting…
So that I was responding positively based on acceptance of the real reality…
And responding with values-based actions.
I can’t respond appropriately, even positively, if I’m not accepting the true reality of my situation.
That is something that I do have control over.
True acceptance of our present realities combined with commitment to respond with values-based actions is what can make all the difference between bad, better, and even best.
So as a result, I’ve started to be able to accept and be even content with the reality that change is coming.
And now that I have accepted it and am expecting it, I can start preparing to make the most of the journey and focus on doing my very best to do this next chapter and stage really well.
I can start to focus on ‘what is my response going to be’?
What ‘values-based actions’ am I going to commit to in response to a full and true acceptance of the present reality I’m facing?
Actually, there is a ‘strange’ side to me that is slightly excited about my condition:
…because it means that I get to ‘walk the walk’ (so to speak), not just ‘talk the talk’, when it comes to health, wellness and wellbeing.
Having a chronic disease over the longer term will mean that I identify all the more with what we do and why we do it.
I am all the more, now more than ever, committed to our company and our staff…
…because enabling people with limitations to maximise their own independence is and will remain an absolute passion of mine, as I know it is for you too.
Who knows? Speaking of ‘expectations’…. Maybe I’ll need to become a client of our services at some stage in the longer term…
And although I’m sure that’s a long way off it may also possibly be sooner than I expected –
And that would put me in a unique position as both a director and as a consumer of our services.
(So that’s exciting in a funny sort of a way :-)
I tell you this story because in many ways, I see this is proverbial for us all, and not just individually, but us as a Company.
You see, we as an organisation, and in fact our whole industry, is going through a similar thing.
We, as a sector, have been diagnosed with a long-term condition too, and it is going to require change, a lot more change, and bring many more challenges for us in the years ahead.
And in order for us not to be caught unprepared by it, we all need to start to adjust our expectations.
The recent Aged Care Royal Commission diagnosed our industry as systemically ‘sick’ and needing fundamental transformation – and that’s because the only way to treat our quality and safety and sustainability issues is to change, dramatically, and quickly.
Unfortunately, we’re not going to be simply given a cash injection to meet the growing and ageing population of tomorrow as well as the demand on better quality and safety in aged care.
What we actually are going to have to do is go through substantial adjustment to become more efficient and effective, and more sustainable.
And what is the prognosis if we don’t respond this way?
The reality is that organisations that are resistant to this change will face growing financial and competitive pressures.
Even now, in recent years care providers across the country have already been experiencing a significant decline in their financial viability.
Although we may look at Care Forward right now and assume that because it is going from strength to strength, it will just continue –
Care Forward right now is continuing to grow…and that is absolutely wonderful…and we are so thankful to one and all for the incredible work that has gone on to sustaining this growth – which has really come from our reputation for quality staff and processes…
We will be opening our new Burnie Office at some stage soon in the New Year…
-- but burying our heads in the sand and ignoring the current signs of impending change would be like me ignoring my MS diagnosis and just assuming that my past and current state is exactly how things will continue into the future!
And that’s a recipe for increasing the chances of a worst-case scenario prognosis!
Because without a treatment plan, without a positive response of commitment to values-based actions focused on making the very most and doing the very best with what we can control, there is every chance that the opposite will happen; things will deteriorate much faster than they might have otherwise.
The reality is that the ground from under us as an organisation is about to shift – because in 18 months from now, the way in which aged care is funded is going to be upended.
No longer will organizations be funded to deliver care. Individuals will be funded to determine their care.
And while political, social, economic, and technological changes affect every industry in Australia, the aged care sector is likely to be one of the industries most impacted in the future.
Competitive pressures, an ageing population with unique needs and wants, and a changing legislative and funding landscape, are set to cause a significant era of disruption in our industry which we will face particularly hard given the uniqueness of our business model.
The financial pressures on the current system and the comparatively higher costs associated with aged care may result in our organisation needing to operate with static or even proportionally reduced funding levels per client.
Already for some years we have been seeing new entrants, takeovers, mergers, amalgamations, new partnerships, and brand-new business models which will continue to disrupt the status quo.
Larger providers are head-hunting smaller operations as well as new staff and competing to import the very best talent into their operations, and this will continue to place increased pressures on our organisation to retain and grow our staff – and the only way to do this will be by us demonstrating to you the real value you benefit from by being a part of our company.
We all need to come to grips with the fact that over the next 4 years, unless we transform our existing services, business, and financial models, we will no longer be aligned to the Department’s reforms and policies, let alone be able to deliver safe and quality care that meets the expectations and requirements of customers, and do it in a way that is sustainable financially.
In essence, within just a few years from now, “the rules of the game” will have profoundly changed, driving a completely new approach to aged care service design and delivery.
Organisations will have either adapted and transitioned successfully…
…or they will have come to the end of their company’s life cycles!
It’s that big!
And so, all of this brings us to the conclusion that we need to change, quickly.
We are determined to be one of those organisations that successfully adapts and transitions well!
To be sure, not ‘everything’ needs to change!
Actually, most things don’t need to change.
Who we are, what we value, and what makes us special needs to stay the same – those things actually need to be protected, so that they don’t change!
This is more about ‘how’, not what or who or why.
How we do things as an industry and as a Company needs to be improved upon so that it is more efficient and sustainable.
Who we are, what we do and why we do it – while remaining unchanged – will actually be protected and safeguarded by changing ‘how’ we do what we do – so that it is as productive and streamlined as possible.
And let’s remember, we have adapted to big changes in the past, and we grew as a result of the positive way in which we responded to those changes.
In the same way, the changes that are necessary for us and our whole industry over the next few years will create incredible opportunity for innovation and growth for us.
We are 100% committed to successfully navigating our way into the future by effectively balancing the commercial need to remain profitable with a quality of care that places our clients at the centre of everything we do.
Time is of the essence.
The definition of insanity is to continue to do things the same way and expect different results.
We can fool ourselves by saying ‘every provider is in the same boat’ – the reality is that we are uniquely vulnerable because of our 20 years of operating a brokerage business model.
If we put our heads in the sand and ignore the signs, we may as well say to ourselves we deserve to go extinct like the dinosaurs.
Pride comes before a fall.
But if, like industrious mammals, we force ourselves to adapt and evolve, we innovate and compete our way out of this, within the timeframes, we will, without a doubt, look back and say that it was the very stress and pressure of being forced to change that became out greatest catalyst for improvement and ultimately success.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
Few of us if any really want the scale and speed of all this change, even though we all know we need it and ultimately want aged care to be better in Australia.
We all no doubt right now feel that we have been embracing years of constant change already, and some of us may even be feeling the old ‘change fatigue’.
Part of me wants to reassure us all, ‘don’t worry, things are set to ease’ and ‘we have broken the back’ of the biggest of challenges and the ‘worst is behind us’.
But actually, the truth is that more and greater change is coming, and it will be thick and fast for the next 4 years at least.
Again, not ‘everything’ is going to change. Most things will not in fact change. But ‘how’ we do what we do is set to change very significantly in a relatively short space of time.
So, we need to calibrate our expectations to the reality of what we are facing!
It can be a hard thing to do, but adjusting our expectations enables us to then focus on preparing ourselves for the road ahead…
…Then we can make the very most and do our very best through the change that is coming our way.
Let’s respond to the pressure by coming together.
Let’s adopt a ‘personal growth’ mindset in every area of our professional lives.
Let’s all put our heads and our hearts together, because it is together, with the collective mind and motivation of team commitment and goodwill towards one another that will be the biggest determinant of our success through these inevitable few years of disruption and transformation!
Thank you so much for sticking with us.
Thank you for holding on as we go on this roller coaster together.
It won’t be easy, but it will be rewarding – there is no doubt about that.
Some of the best things for us are the things we least want to do.
And some of the worst things for us are the things that we most want to do.
It’s at seasons like this that we pray God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
And grant me the courage to change the things I can.
And the wisdom to know the difference.
We’re sure going to need a healthy dose of courage!
So, let’s ‘en-courage’ one another and let me ‘en-courage’ you.
We all need each other.
None of us can do any of this without one another.
And nor would we want to.
We can do this! We’ve got this. Because we’ve got one another.
We are both realistic and honest with ourselves and with you about the challenges that lie ahead and the changes that are required.
And we are motivated and determined to do everything in our power to undergo the business transformation that is required to adapt and transition really well.
We are committed to values-based action, and that includes our absolute commitment to you, our staff, and to quality improvement and client outcomes.
And we are absolutely focused on responding positively to the challenges before us and seeing them as an opportunity for innovation and growth that is not only quantitative but qualitative – an opportunity to lead the way yet again in business excellence.
I am 100% committed to this Company and its success both now and in the future over the long term.
And therefore, we have every reason to be optimistic.
We know that together we not only ‘can’ do this – we ‘will’ do it.
We have the internal intelligence, resolve, conviction, commitment, and resources to come through the next chapter in aged care bigger, better, and brighter.
So ‘bring it on’! That’s what I say.
It will be good for us.
Just like my MS.
I am ‘strangely’ excited about it.
Because we’re going to learn and grow in the process and become all the better for it.
It will be a net-gain.
It’s going to give to us the very things we wanted and needed anyway.
It will force us to change and become what we wanted to, all along!
I hope we can all rally together during and beyond the year ahead and be united with the same vision and mindset of not only continual change, but continual improvement.
So, thanks so much for allowing me to share all of this with you.
I want us to be all on this journey together, and for that, we need to be open and vulnerable and transparent with one another.
That’s part of what we value as a Company – we value our relationships. And relationships are built on trust.
So Merry Christmas everyone!
Enjoy this season of coming together to celebrate and remember the meaning of why we do what we do.
Have a well-earned rest!
And I look forward to the New Year and yet another big chapter for us on the road ahead.
Onwards and upwards, always.
And thank you so much!