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Catherine Daley of integratedliving Australia on the key predictors of organisational change success

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A well-run aged care organisation with proper checks and balances in place will deliver good patient care – but there is more to it than first meets the eye.

Healthcare Channel has reached out to Catherine Daley, CEO of integratedliving Australia to understand how she successfully runs her suite of aged care in-home services in regional, rural and remote communities.

Catherine Daley, who holds an MBA, BA, and Dip Adult Education, MAICD, is passionate about the equity of services for regional, rural and remote communities. She is also an entrepreneurial, strategic and engaging leader who turns concepts and strategies into practical projects. 

Catherine seeks innovative technology solutions and champions services that improve the quality of life and enhancement of people’s health and well-being.  

In this interview, Catherine explores the essential factors in internal procedures, technologies, workforce and more, that contribute to organisational change success. 

HCC: What have been the challenges you encountered throughout your 12 years as CEO of integratedliving, leading to becoming a significant provider in regional, rural and remote communities of in-home services? 

Catherine: Like many leaders undertaking business transformation, growing the business, or undertaking mergers or amalgamations, I believe you need a clearly articulated aspiration, an ambitious and bold vision for your communities, and energy and passion for new ideas, the capability to execute, and the ability to finance the change or transformation.  

This is not a quick or easy journey, especially if the bold vision requires effecting policy change. Our driver has been the belief in new care models focused on better health outcomes for rural, regional and remote communities.

We haven’t undertaken this journey alone. We have many strategic partners or advisers who have supported or continue to support us, on this journey.

The challenges are multiple, of course. They include maintaining the momentum and people engagement; ensuring leadership and the required functional capabilities within the business; truly embedding business changes; prioritising competing external pressures and business priorities so that change is manageable, focused and specific. 

Then there is the need to utilise rigorous processes, and have the discipline to measure, monitor and execute; investing in systems and technologies that integrate or are interoperable; as well as ensuring the ability to fund continued innovation. 

These are all challenges where things didn’t always go to plan. Review and lessons learned analysis, and using an iterative and agile approach, ensures we work harder as a leadership team to mitigate these challenges. The leadership team includes the Board, Executive and Senior team, and this dynamic is also critical.  

Attitudes to change are key predictors of organisational change success and one of the most impactful challenges. Engagement with staff, and clearly articulating and communicating the ‘why, the how and the what’ are key. As is understanding that people also need to change, but generally people need to believe the change is manageable, focused, and include specific work initiatives. This all requires focused commitment. 

HCC: What advances have integratedliving implemented to stay current in the increasing digital health world?

Catherine: The journey started 12 years ago with a clear vision for rural, regional and remote communities to access health services. We strategically envisioned a different outcome for these communities, although we did not have the means to achieve the vision at that time. 

We undertook a series of technology-based projects in 2012. For example, we utilised iPads and were awarded an NBN Telehealth vital signs monitoring project to integrate access to primary care and health services for older people in rural, regional and remote areas. We moved to state-of-the-art rehabilitation equipment uploading client data to the cloud from 2015-2016. Since 2018, we have worked to translate new service models, underpinned by digital capability, into virtualised services provided by a range of interdisciplinary team members.   

It has been a fundamental step change over more than 10 years, focused on strategic thinking and working closely with technology partners to co-invest and create access to services for people across these communities, whilst considering the way we work and optimising a limited workforce.  

From a technology perspective, we have progressed a modernisation program and adopted a modern web-based architecture where all our ICT solutions and services are either delivered as a service or are virtualised and delivered via our public cloud tenancy. This has improved our agility to adopt, integrate and grow our technology investments in line with the wider ICT industry trends. It has also provided us with a robust and manageable environment to apply leading-edge tools to secure our data and minimise cyber security threats across the organisation.

For our workforce, it has created an increasingly virtual engagement with the business and clients. The majority of services are now available through mobile applications and the majority of staff can now work remotely without impacting their user experience.

From a client perspective, we have employed Digital Support Officers to help our clients increase their digital literacy. This is not just to deliver more services through digital channels, but also to deliver benefits in regards to communication with family, government and other services, as well as educating them to protect from the growing threat of phishing scams.

Find out more about our upcoming event: Aged Care Week: The Future of Aged Care

HCC: Supporting nearly 30, 000 people and families each year is quite a huge responsibility. How do you ensure continuous service improvements and staff growth are in place?

Catherine: Continuous improvement is in our DNA. Early on in our journey, we adopted the Australian Business Excellence Framework and this approach really drove the way we strive to continually improve as a business to move beyond minimum standards and keep the focus on the value for the client. 

We have dedicated teams who support continuous improvement based on person-centred design principles; a portfolio management office to support projects, processes and systems for continuous feedback from clients and staff; learning and development to provide education and training; various levels of governance and process adherence to enable improvements, lessons learned, and closing the loop. 

Continuous improvement is itself a journey and we appreciate opportunities to learn and improve as a business. We also have a Consumer Partner Panel to review and advise on a range of improvement opportunities.  

From a workforce perspective, we have utilised a remote working model since 2011 for corporate or indirect staff. This allows us to employ skilled and experienced person regardless of their location. We don’t have a head office and any premises are predominantly client spaces. Our frontline staff are located in the 31 aged care planning regions where we facilitate services. Our services are also delivered virtually, especially exercise, clinical and allied health, across these regions. 

Having a vision and passion that connects with many people and draws the right capability to the business is helpful, and a remote working model has been a very attractive value proposition for many of our team members. Like the rest of the country, recruitment and retention of frontline staff remain a challenge. Having a focus on the engagement and experience of people at work aids retention.  

I’m very proud integratedliving is now one of only two employers nationally to be awarded the Platinum Employer status by The Circle Back Initiative. This recognises the way we engage through the recruitment processes.  

HCC: As an Ageing Asia 2019 Global Ageing Trailblazer Awardee, what has been your most valuable contribution to the aged care industry? 

Catherine: Perhaps it’s pushing the boundaries of thinking. Throughout my working life, I have always looked outside the current work sector for big picture thinking and innovation. I’ve always looked to identify the best ways of operating from innovative sectors focused on person-centric approaches. I’ve been fortunate to have been on study tours overseas and presented at national and international conferences focused on innovation and design. There isn’t one model we can imitate but we can look for the best ways of operating from innovative business models, especially those focused on person-centred approaches.  

Having access to trusted advisers, innovative thinkers, research partners, and performance partners support me personally.  

As a leader in the sector though, integratedliving’s leadership extends beyond our business model, to include broader advocacy, influencing and working to shape future policy in the ecosystem for the health benefits of rural, regional and remote communities. 

HCC: Among the thousands of providers sharing the same goal in Australia, what sets integratedliving Australia apart from the others? 

Catherine: Respectfully many people want to ‘make a difference’ in their communities. Many of us have parents or relatives requiring care and support and understand the impact of services within the sector. It is personal for many. Currently, however, we have a programmatic, service catalogue, government-funded model of aged care.   

Our ethos and vision are focused on rural, regional and remote communities and we have envisioned a future for these communities that could have different outcomes.

We know ‘your postcode matters’ in relation to timely, accessible health services and treatments.

We have significant workforce shortages in a range of professions, especially outside the metro area and we need to think differently to enable solutions. We don’t need to perpetuate old models or the same models rebadged. We have an opportunity to really think about the person at the centre and bring together service and work design thinking. 

We have a demonstrated track record in innovation and creativity. We hold a body of thinking and knowledge beyond the current boundaries. We think differently about the problems and we strive for solutions outside the current funding models, workforce solutions, and task-driven approaches of a programmatic approach. We envision ourselves together with our partners, as part of an integrated healthcare system, facilitating better health outcomes and experiences for the person at an individual level, and for funders and payers at a system level.

Read also: Australia’s sector leader in quality care, Danielle Ballantine of Your Side Australia.

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