Staff Welcome & Introduction to the Company

Staff Introduction - Care Forward

Staff Introduction - Care Forward

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My Fellow Colleagues,

Congratulations on your new position and welcome to the company! 


I’m really pleased and thrilled that you’ve chosen to join us. We need all the help we can get! 

I want to begin by acknowledging the Tasmanian Aboriginal peoples – they are the first inhabitants of this Island.

They are both the original as well as the ongoing custodians of this land where we live and work. 

I deeply respect them and their culture; both their ancestors and their Elders of the past, as well as the present, including those that are emerging.

My name is Joe Towns. I’m the Managing Director and have been working with this company for 10 years now.

It is an absolute privilege and an honour to be working for you!

I very much believe that as the Managing Director my role is to serve you and work for the good of the Company.

It’s called ‘servant leadership’ and it is at the core of what our company values; the Director is working for the management, the management is serving the team leaders, and they are working for our front line staff who are serving our clients.

So, we are all working for one another. Yes, we’re striving for the good of our clients, but we also come to work because it contributes to our own good, and it is also for the good of one another too!

Have you heard of Jonathan Haidt’s recent book called “The Righteous Mind – why good people are divided…” He is an American moral and social psychologist, and in it he famously says that “humans are 90% chimp, and 10% honeybee”.

Now what is remarkable about this finding is that at the core of what makes us human and binds us together in cohesive groups is this Chimpanzee like nature to act in our own interests. It might be labelled as “selfish”, but it is just a simple fact of the way in which our groups, our “companies” need to work; we need to be doing things that are looking after ourselves, that are in our own interests, that benefit us. It is only good that you look after yourself. Why would you even come to work if you didn’t benefit from it?!

But at the same time, we are 10% honeybee. The honeybee is different; they are colonial, and achieve far, far more than a group of chimps. Their colonies are working together on a larger scale, constructively collaborating with the whole group from an amazing, altruistic, self-sacrificial motivation, whereby each member is ultimately willing to give their own lives to protect the hive. And there is an aspect of human nature and society that can and ultimately wants to be like that too. Not always, and not for everybody, but we do get a real “buzz” from forming ‘companies’ where the whole group is doing something greater than the ‘self’; where we can forget about ourselves and work for the higher good, towards higher goals and achieve remarkable things as a collective mind and body.

And this really highlights one of the things we are trying to do as a company. We might be a private company, but we are mission based, and we are ‘for purpose’. We get a real “buzz” out of what we can and are achieving together. We can see the difference that we can make in each other’s lives, through a strong, supportive and positive staff culture. We can see the difference we can make in the lives of our clients, through the health outcomes we can and are achieving. And we can see the improvements as well as the growth, that we’re all contributing towards. 

And *as well as* benefitting the company as a whole, by driving our reputation for quality and excellence in the community, this is all actually benefitting each and every one of us as individuals – in our work satisfaction, in our wellbeing and wellness in the workplace – through the increased levels of support and structures and resources.

So *thank you* for putting yourself forward and enlisting yourself as one of the Hive! And I hope that as you too strive for excellence and contribute towards the ‘buzz,’ you will benefit as an individual from the cohesive culture and the success of the company in equal measure.

This company was founded in 1999 by my Aunty Judy, along with two other Registered Nurses, who were each Care Coordinators in ‘Careworks’ - one of the National Coordinated Care Trials of the late 90s. 

They were inspired by the way in which this Trial improved health outcomes through the use of health professionals as independent coordinators of care – free of a clinical load – to work with primary, allied health and aged care service providers to maximise what is purely in the best interest of clients.

Independent service assessments enabled them to make autonomous, unbiased decisions that were not influenced by the perspectives of service providers.

That is where the name “Care Assessment Consultants” came from: they began working as nurse consultants for General Practices to conduct health assessments on behalf of GPs for their clients.

But only a year later, in 2000, they realised that this model should lead to huge benefits if applied to home and community care programs.

They first applied and were successful in becoming the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Veterans’ Home Care Assessment Agency for Southern Tasmania at the very beginning of that program in Australia – and I was able to expand this role Statewide when I joined in 2011.

A year later they successfully applied the same model to the Home and Community Care Program (HACC), with the exception that they received direct funding for services, as well as assessment and care coordination. But to keep to their model of independence, they commenced brokering out all services through third party subcontractors.

Then in 2005, when Tasmania’s Department of Health and Human Services was looking for a community care provider to take over what was then its HACC Packages program, it realised that Care Assessment Consultants was the perfect candidate, because of its independent assessment and brokerage business model. 

The Company for the next 10 years provided Tasmania’s Post Acute Packages (or PAP) program, which in 2015 under my watch was transitioned into the new CHSP program and then later in 2016 was segued back to a Tasmanian Government funded program, as the Post Hospital Home Support program (or more commonly referred to as the PHD program). 

One of the founding directors, the late Merryl Lane, was incredibly passionate about the wellness approach and had travelled to WA to visit Silver Chain and research their Home Independence Program (or HIP). She realised that the Company could enhance this program by using the brokerage model and using Exercise Physiologists instead of Physios.

In 2007 she was successful in winning HACC funding to launch Tasmania’s own HIP program, which grew statewide and had huge success and was also transitioned into the CHSP program under my watch in 2015. And it continues to be Tasmania’s leading short term reablement program within the home support system across the State. 

I came on the scene late in 2010 when the existing directors of the company, my aunty Judy and Merryl Lane, were looking to retire and had been trying to sell the company, unsuccessfully, first to Silver Chain from WA and then to what was RDNS from Melbourne. Judy wanted to step down and go back to part time community nursing, but Merryl was unwell and later it became known that she had cancer; and very sadly, she passed away 2 years later.

But from the time that I met her, I found that her passion for the wellness approach was contagious. After acquiring and taking over the business, I spent countless hours with her discussing each of the programs and picking up the nuances of the independence model and the importance of quality, independent assessment. She handed over to me all of the documentation of her past tenders, and program guidelines, and I met with her regularly over almost 2 years, as well as with key staff inside and outside the organisation about best practice and innovative home and community care.

After the change of ownership and me stepping into the company as its first CEO, my immediate job in early 2011 was to re-tender to win another VHC Assessment Agency contract; and very thankfully, we retained this work and in fact expanded that program for the first time Statewide.

My next job was to achieve Community Care Approved Provider status – and at the end of 2011 the company was awarded our first three Community Aged Care Packages (CACPs they were called), so that we could trial our model of independent care coordination and brokerage within a Commonwealth care package program.

This was very successful, and in the 2012 Aged Care Approvals Round (or ACAR), the company was awarded 42 of the brand new consumer directed (or CDC) “Home Care Packages”, across all four levels, and in each of Tasmania’s three Aged Care Planning Regions. We continued to win more packages in every ACAR, right up until the 27 February 2017 changes that saw all Home Care Packages re-allocated to the Consumer, so that they were fully consumer directed and had portability of funds and provider – a change that saw our package numbers sky rocket from 87 at that time to now hundreds, as more and more clients have been attracted by our model of independent health professionals coordinating their care.

However, prior to this, in 2014 a major change threatened the organisation. Now in the hands of the Commonwealth, the HACC program was coming to an end and a new Commonwealth Home Support Program (or CHSP) would begin on 1 July 2015. However, assessment and care coordination would no longer be funded, and instead a new My Aged Care gateway program would introduce an independent Regional Assessment Service (or RAS) to conduct all assessments of clients entering the home support system.

What this meant for us is that the organisation would lose enormous amounts of funding and staff, and much of what was unique about what we did – including the PAP and HIP programs, and our health professional staff.

I had no choice but to write to the Department at that time, and argue the case that these programs had their rightful place within the new CHSP program, and that all of the assessment and care coordination funding should rightly be reclassified as allied health care funding. At the same time, I frantically prepared to participate in the major AusTender application process to become a RAS provider of Assessment Services on behalf of My Aged Care.

And so it was that in early 2015 we found that we had been successful with both, in our request to transition these Commonwealth HACC Programs into the new CHSP with a major re-classification of our funding, and at the same time we had won our bid to establish ourselves as a new RAS provider under strict separation requirements to address the conflict of interest of service provision and assessment services through the one company.

And thus the independent divisions and structural and functional separations were established within the company between Care Forward as the service provider trading arm of the company, and Care Consultancy as the central governing and management trading arm undertaking all corporate support and administration of the business, and Care Assess as the independent assessment agency trading arm within the organisation.

But we always wanted to do more than this and go even further in our commitment to ensure a gold standard of quality for both our assessment services and our service delivery.

Care Forward in 2016 was successful in expanding into Flexible Care, winning the first of Tasmania’s Short Term Restorative Care (or STRC) packages, cementing its position as the leading provider in the State for the provision of wellness, reablement and restorative care. 

At the same time, Care Assess was leading the way as Tasmania’s only local aged care assessment agency specialising purely in home support assessment services. But it would not be able to continue to do this in the future under the same company that is an Approved Provider of Aged Care, because in the future, aged care assessment agencies would have a role in assessment for funding, determining what is the appropriate and reasonable level of support that should be provided by aged care providers.

Care Assessment Consultants, as the parent company, had actually established Care Tasmania Pty Ltd in 2012 for this very reason, for the purpose of taking on the work and contracts of its parent company’s assessment services division and trading arm, then Care Assess, so as to commence providing assessments through a separate legal entity and thereby become Tasmania’s own independent assessment agency, specialising purely in assessment, fully separate from aged care service provision. 

And so, after a significant time of preparation and planning, in 2019 Care Tasmania commenced operations, and began providing the first of its parent company’s assessment services, that of Health Assessments on behalf of General Practice.

Later that year Care Tasmania took over the legal contract for the VHC Assessment Agency work on behalf of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and then in July of 2020 Care Tasmania also started providing the RAS work on behalf of My Aged Care.

And from that time on, from 1 July 2020, the trading name “Care Assess” was also transferred to Care Tasmania and the parent company has ceased trading under that name. 

Therefore, Care Tasmania (the company) now fully operates Care Assess (the assessment services trading business) – having inherited all of its contracts, capability, and capacity.

What that means is that “Care Assess” now refers to the trading name and assessment service business of Care Tasmania Pty Ltd as a separate company and a new independent business from its parent company. 

All of this was very crucial, because in late 2019, a brand-new aged care assessment service tender came out that excluded Aged Care Providers from applying. The Australian National Aged Care Classification (or AN-ACC) Trial was exactly what we expected, a funding assessment, not a needs assessment, of residents in aged care homes. 

And beyond all expectations Care Tasmania was successful as one of only four organisations nationally to conduct what was an Australian-first, completing the AN-ACC Trial for Tasmania.

And so that is how Care Tasmania, now trading as Care Assess,  established itself as a completely separate Company with all of the demands, challenges and opportunities of a brand-new fledgling start-up, needing to stand on its own feet financially and expand into the big and broad assessment services space across Tasmania.

This was incredibly important, because Care Forward continues to steam ahead as a Community Aged Care Provider, having far exceeded its own milestones of aged care packages growth, and at its current trajectory will reach a size and a scale much larger than it had ever anticipated, including further expansion into post hospital restorative care. 

Care Consultancy continues to manage both companies, under a Management Agreement that enables it to provide Management Services to Care Tasmania trading as Care Assess under a strict Policy of Separation.

It has managed a major influx of new staff and subcontractors for Care Forward, has battled an incredibly tight budget, has adjusted to enormous pressure from the Department around Care Assess’ KPIs, has manoeuvred to increase our outputs, increase our efficiency, and do more with less. 

Beyond all forecasts, Care Consultancy’s existing management staff are wrangling a level of organisational complexity and sophistication that far exceeds what any of us could have been prepared for, in what is still a Small to Medium Enterprise.

I share with you this history because it is important for all of us to understand where we have come from. Our story is powerful. We may be a Group and a collective of private companies, but we are mission based and we are for-purpose and purpose-driven. 

We’re united by a common mission to enable more people to live well and do well, across Tasmania. 

Our philosophy has always been to work “with you, for you”: working with you to enable you to live well – and maximising your abilities to do well in caring for yourself and others.

We’re passionate about wellness and supporting client independence; we’re passionate about enablement, reablement and restorative care. We’re passionate about quality and independent assessment to empower consumer care and capacity building. We’re passionate about prevention and early intervention.

Our strategy continues to be to specialise in coordinated access to services, enhanced by independent quality workforces, to ensure effective quality management of care.

If we’re going to achieve this, we need to continue to develop and evolve to ensure a:

  • Defining culture and workforce that is motivated to perform and deliver to a high standard, 

  • That consistently satisfies expectations of client experience and customer service,

  • Through the selective use of integrated technologies that enable efficient and effective services.

And so, we’ve still got a long way to go. It’s a process. And I thank you for joining us to contribute towards the journey we are on. 

We’re determined to continue to progress our core commitments to achieve continuous improvements across all our services.

And this will happen as we continue to:

  • Grow our participation by improving communication and engagement with you and all our stakeholders

  • Grow our management capacity and capability by expanding our leadership and governance structures & systems

  • Grow our operational efficiency through better use of selective technology 

  • Grow our workforce capacity through increased performance development

  • Grow our diversification through continued investment in business development 

  • Grow our service reach by increasing our workforce and linkages across Tasmania, and

  • Grow our customer service experience and quality by continuing to aim for business excellence.

To borrow a phrase from the famous film, Shawshank Redemption, it is not by the “power of one!”. Rather, this sort of business transformation can only happen by the “power of one another”. 

We may have all evolved from chimps, but as humans we’re all at least 10% honeybee. So I encourage you to bring that collective, hive-mind mentality with you into your work – so that together we can all as individuals continue to benefit from the achievements, and successes and improvements that we can make in not only our client’s lives, but also in our own lives and the lives of one another as a Group.

So, thanks very much once again for coming on board. 

As I’ve said, we need all the help we can get.

I look forward to working for you, in my role as Managing Director.

And I hope you also will get the same ‘buzz’ out of working with and for your fellow colleagues and clients, just as we know they will also be doing for you.