Above: Blue Care Executive Director, Robyn Batten, right with a client.
By Keryn Curtis
Queensland’s aged care ‘icon’, Blue Care, has unveiled a new service model called ‘Blue Care Tailor Made’ which Executive Director, Robyn Batten, says is a response to an ever-changing aged and community care environment and will position the organisation well for the future.
As the name suggests, the new service model is based around tailoring a flexible array of services to meet the needs of individual clients and their families, rather than around traditional service options, reflecting the themes and directions outlined by the Productivity Commission last year in its report on the aged care system, Caring for Older Australians.
The model is based on six key components: connecting; wellbeing; restoring; caring; dying with dignity; and ‘extras’, the latter being additional services offered for a fee. All services are offered across all settings including in the home, in the community, in seniors housing or in residential care.
Batten says a person can engage with one or several components of the new model at any time to receive a combination of care and services that is right for them.
Central to the model is the principle that the person comes first.
“People will be at the centre of all we do but rather than providing a list of services to our clients, our clients will tell us what they need and we will work with them to find options to suit them.
“Clients will be the driver, not the passenger, of the services they choose to use.”
Batten said while Blue Care was a large and diverse organisation, they had to recognise that they would not be able to provide all the services that people might request.
“We can’t be all things to all people – clients may want services we don’t provide or maybe that we’ve never thought of - so partnering is a key element in this model. That might involve, for example, partnering with another aged care provider, a local gym, or a massage therapist or even the local pub if, say, someone wants to get a meal there.”
“People don’t want off-the-shelf services. A hugely important part of this model is the culture and creating a person-centred culture. In every interaction between staff and clients and residents, we must be listening and engaging and understanding their individual needs.
“It’s also about service integration at a higher level. How do we provide ‘integrated’ person centred services? How can we help clients move seamlessly through different kinds of services and support?” she asks.
While it might be argued that this level of choice and flexibility is too difficult to provide in the current aged care system, Batten disagrees.
“I think often when people say something can’t be done, it is almost an excuse. For instance, if you are providing respite services to someone you get a certain amount of time. How you want to use it is up to you. We don’t want to prescribe what people can or can’t do. It’s about treating people with respect, listening and engaging with them to meet their real needs,” she said.
The change process
Batten says Blue Care has adopted a ‘holistic change model’ which the organisation approached in an evidence-based and structured way to ensure it could be agreed and implemented and followed through.
“‘Blue Care Tailor Made’ is the result of a comprehensive consultation process with staff at all levels across the organisation,” said Ms Batten.
“We started in November last year, going across the state holding workshops with staff and clients and others; we held ten separate workshops to engage people in the process and agree the vision. We were looking at evidence, trends, best practice; understanding our external environments, our strengths and our service range.
“Five hundred clients, families, staff and health industry leaders helped inform the model’s design, so we’ve got a genuine blueprint to go there.” she said.
The new model will be implemented at Blue Care’s 260 sites during the next two years. A range of tools and training has been developed to augment the roll-out and implementation of the model, including a video for managers and a booklet that describes the approach in an accessible graphic style.