Ekram Awadallah is the Manager of Aged Services of the Australian Multicultural Community Services and came to Australia as a young adult. Now working in aged care she is driven by her desire to pay respect to all of the elderly from these many communities who have sacrificed much to give their children a future full of hope. She has found that the elderly are very resilient and generally capable. She is finding that CDC can return hope to the elderly in a way that is respectful to them and their families.
Ekram was interviewed by Jonathan Pietsch the Service Provider Consultant for COTA Australia.
“32 years ago the Australian Multicultural Community Services organisation began as a small ethno specific provider. Now, it is an organisation that provides an array of services in Melbourne Metro and Barwon regions to the multicultural community and includes 125 level 2 packages.
We began two years ago thinking about Consumer Directed Care and thought that it would be a bit tricky. We have been working on a personalised service model for some time and initially thought that there would not be much difference to how we delivered the programs. However, we have been surprised!
We started with developing an Excel spreadsheet that helped cost and price our services with the provision of a consumer’s budget and monthly statement. Our own piloting of the monthly statement soon changed how consumers were viewing their package of care. We have found that this new approach has increased transparency for the consumer as well as added a sense of control and hope for the consumer. This has led to a renewed focus on setting tangible goals. It has given the consumer the opportunity to think more long term about the resources they have for their care. For example, consumers now save for equipment and some are looking forward to save for a scooter to get them places. This means more independence for the consumer and less pressure on carers. This small example highlights a significant shift in how our consumers are beginning to think.
The initial use of the monthly statement then led to us recognising that many other things needed to change. This included our focus on marketing and explaining our program clearly as well as providing staff training to our care advisers and carers. Whole of organisation training focused on customer service. Our care advisors specifically needed training in reading monthly statements and calculating the cost of services. We also recognised that we needed a more integrated software approach that combined multiple requirements. Hence, we have gone beyond the excel spreadsheet to a system that produces the agreement, the care plan, the individualised budget and the monthly statement This system also introduced to our care workers the use of smart phones to receive their rosters, any updates regarding clients to bring in instant notifications regarding clients health and hazards to our care advisors.
Sure, some consumers say, “You tell me what is best”, but most have found an increased sense of ownership. Our care advisors have shifted their thinking to consider more options and are being more creative. Extended families have become more involved and with the increased transparency and better understanding of the service provided. Sometimes, it has meant freeing family members up and at other times it has meant trying to maximise the resources available. Using other services that we may not have previously thought of that involve volunteers is increasing. It’s great in some instances to hear from carers that now understand the budget better, they can afford to put more services in place while they enjoy a few days away from their caring role.
In hindsight we have really had to reinvent ourselves. Our focus on the four big areas of finance, marketing, training and IT have really paid off. We are now in a good position to grow and we are ready for our quality review that is occurring in July. All in all, we think that we are ready and now have a mindset that is ready for the future, with some anxiety but also much hope.”