Putting the client first

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11th Oct 2018 | | ENRICH LIVING

Enrich CEO NORBERT WALTHER tells JUDY SKATSSOON how organisations that rise to the challenge of consumer directed care can thrive.

From humble beginnings as a home-care support worker in his homeland of Germany, Norbert Walther now heads one of Australia’s biggest providers of home care and aged care services after overseeing the rebranding of St Ives Home Care as Enrich Living Services.

After a career in healthcare around the world, including the pharmaceutical industry, Walther says aged and home care is where his passions lie.

“Very early on I realised just what a privilege it is to support and help people stay independent and in control of their lives as opposed to doing things for people and creating dependency,” he says. “This really has stayed with me.”

But that doesn’t mean he thinks the current system is perfect.

“I feel strongly about the need to shift how home care is delivered in Australia,” he tells Community Care Review.

“I believe the prescriptive, and often regimented, approach of service provision in the industry needs to go. In order to remain relevant to our client base, we need to move on from this,” he says.

That philosophy is right in tune with the environment the home care sector finds itself in after legislative changes that came into effect in 2017 heralded the move to consumer directed care.

Walther says while the changes present challenges, they also provide golden opportunities for organisations who are prepared to put the client first.

“The drive towards consumer directed care is absolutely from a policy direction the right thing to do – I welcome it.”

Impetus For Change 

Changing market expectations arising from the legislative change provided an impetus for the rebranding of St Ives Home Care, which separated from St Ives Group in 2016 and was incorporated under Enrich Health Group as a joint venture between Quadrant Private Equity and RAC WA.

It relaunched under the new brand on in June 2018. Enrich now employs 500 staff who provide home care across NSW, Queensland, Victoria, WA, NT and the ACT and is funded to provide services under a range of government subsidised programs.

“The time was certainly right after full implementation of Consumer Directed Care in 2017 to reorientate the business fully around what clients were telling us they wanted and build a new brand and offering ground up from that,” Walther says.

“We spent a lot of time with our clients, talking with them and asking what matters most to them. Aspects that came through very strongly were the need to simplify the decision-making process, support a sense of purpose and control and independence and enhance life on their own terms.

“There isn’t a brand speaking to this, so it was a great opportunity to meet unmet needs.”

Looking Outside The Square

The rebrand has included looking outside the square to a non-traditional approach to services and care, such as personalised plans and innovative activities, Walther says.

The Community Connections program is designed from the waitlists of clients and, he says, “there isn’t a traditional aged care type event or activity in sight.” Activities include weekends away, attending symphonies, enjoying nature treks and even helicopter rides.

“(Clients) are making friendships and rediscovering passions and we are seeing remarkable functional improvements and general health, mental health and wellbeing gains,” Walther says. “It really is quite astonishing.”

Looking to the future, Walther says the home care industry is currently suffering from fragmentation and he believes the consumer would benefit from consolidation.

“Enrich Health Group is committed to building businesses that offer benefits to clients through an integrated model that offers a variety of value added health and wellness services in the one place – making it simpler, more accessible and offering greater value for the client.

“We certainly hold the belief that there is a real value to be gained for clients by virtue of some consolidation. It allows, then, providers to really make the investments into staff, into technology, into innovation, to ultimately give clients the outcomes and experience of independence and control they are seeking.

“There are benefits to be gained from scale with larger investment into innovation across multiple business offering synergies around value added products and services and invigorating service delivery models around what clients most want.”

ENDS.

*Republish from Community Care Spring 2018 Edition | www.communitycarereview.com.au

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