Australia’s sector leader in quality care, Danielle Ballantine of Your Side Australia
Ensuring quality care is best received by patients in the healthcare sector is a top priority for all care providers, especially for older people, people with disability, other vulnerable members of the community and carers.
Healthcare Channel has reached out to Danielle Ballantine, the CEO of Your Side Australia, to share her personal and professional experience that led her to become a sector leader in quality care in Australia.
Danielle Ballantine has held a variety of senior positions in human/health services across not-for-profit and corporate sectors. Danielle has led the development of client services spanning aged, disability, employment, vocational training, indigenous and mental health.
She is passionate about customer service and quality. Her goal is that the Your Side team works alongside clients, empowering them to make choices creating independence and a positive life change.
In this interview, Danielle talks about how Your Side Australia delivers Total Care to their clients.
HCC: What steps did you take to become a sector leader in quality care in Australia?
Danielle: I’ve always felt fortunate that I worked for inspiring leaders with a genuine passion for making a difference and where I had a values alignment. Finding the right leader to work for was critical for my own career, as I was able to observe, query, listen, learn, and see them as my role models. Thankfully, today, I am still in contact with a few of them, so I am afforded the opportunity to still speak with them and ask for guidance.
All throughout my career, I took every opportunity that was presented to me, even if I didn’t think that I had the training, or it didn’t seem to fit with my foreseeable plan.
The most important two steps were seeking feedback and engaging a coach or mentor. At various times, I’ve had several coaches with whom I have been able to seek feedback, get perspective on an issue or challenge that I was dealing with, and gain clarity on purpose, direction, and barrier points.
Early on in my career, I bounced between two organisations. Being a “boomerang” employee meant that I was able to expand my skill set. Each time, I was clear on the reason that I was leaving and my commitment to return when I had expanded my skills and developed the experience. I always appreciated the opportunity to return when the time was right. So, if you are leaving a role or an organisation, stay in contact.
HCC: How do you keep yourself and your team motivated in delivering Total Care to your clients?
Danielle: Motivation is based on the energy of the collective. At Your Side, we keep a focus on our purpose, and use that as our guiding light and reference point, especially through periods of reform.
I have a very skilled team who are passionate and experienced at what they do. Their determination is contagious in achieving Your Side’s vision – that every life can be a good one.
Although the world has undergone extraordinary change these past 3 years, the fundamentals still apply:
- Lots of communication – I do regular CEO updates on our intranet which has the function to comment and feedback. I chair quarterly meetings, attend team meetings to listen and actively respond to Teams chats. The team will generally hear the same thing eight times and in eight different ways before we move to action.
- Acknowledge and thank your teams. All people like to be seen and have their contributions recognised.
- Provide relevant feedback that congratulates, respects, and stretches people.
- Openly talk about the tough stuff and give people permission to feel when it’s hard, and that means being available to listen.
- Check-in on people when they least expect it. An unexpected “I just called to see how you are” has a big impact. It’s saying, I value you.
- And one that I learned from my dad – be humble and have a sense of humour!
Find out more about our upcoming event: Aged Care Week: The Future of Aged Care
HCC: How did you use your low vision experience to improve and promote accessibility in Your Side Australia?
Danielle: Educate, communicate, and demonstrate. Although I wear spectacles, people generally can’t tell that I have low vision or understand the implications and adjustments that I make to navigate my world.
I literally see the world differently from other people due to studio blindness, meaning that my world is two-dimensional. I can’t see volume or space and use monocular or non-visual cues to navigate space. I also experience visual clutter, meaning that my brain trained itself to suppress images to avoid complete visual loss. This means that my physical space needs to be clean and uncluttered. Things need to have a “spot” and routine is important.
I am very open about my low vision, so usually on the second or third meeting, I will bring it up and the adjustments I make to navigate the world, workplace and answer any questions. Thankfully I have a team who are disability aware and already skilled to talk about adjustments or ask questions.
HCC: As CEO of Your Side Australia, what are your plans for the organisation for the next five years?
Danielle Ballantine: The aged care sector is experiencing enormous reform with changes in policy and service design. This is off the back of reform for the disability and carer sectors. Our focus will be on responding to changes in aged care. We will remain focused on delivering TOTAL CARE with an emphasis on supporting individuals and families to coordinate care. Our goal is to support people when coordinating care becomes a full-time job. Our clients continually tell us that they want to remain at home, so for the past several years we have been working to bridge the gap and integrate health and community care, so older people can stay at home safely for as long as possible
The care sector continues to be complex to navigate for individuals and families. Your Side will continue to advocate for and design services that address access barriers, so people get the right care at the right time. Our model saves families 5 ½ weeks a year in finding and coordinating care services. We believe that people should be free to live their lives, not spend precious time coordinating care.
HCC: Among the thousands of providers sharing the same goal in Australia, what makes Your Side Australia apart from the others?
Danielle: Providers of care do an amazing job every day, and many are full of dedicated and passionate people making a difference in the lives of vulnerable people.
Your Side recognised early on, with the introduction of individualised funding, that individuals and families will have much more independence and choice over their support needs, however, that also came at a price. And that price is the additional time, energy, and effort of organising all of the services. More than 70% of our employees are carers themselves and have experienced that additional time, confusion, and energy in coordinating support services for a loved one.
This means that not only do they bring their professional expertise in system navigation, but they also bring the lived experience of a carer. This lived experience cannot be undervalued, as it means that our Customer Care team are understanding, empathic and compassionate.