Where It All Began
Leanne was working in administration at the Acacia Court residential care facility at Hendon when Eldercare took over the facility in the 1990s.
“I was working for the City of Charles Sturt at the time and after I had a baby I came back to work in a part-time position”, she says.
At the time Acacia Court was a council-owned facility.
“I was doing reception/admin work from day one. Back then reception/admin virtually ran the place,” Leanne says.
In 1995 Eldercare took over as manager of the site and acquired the facility in 2001.
“I think the hardest part was that Council was so advanced with the technology they used that when Eldercare came on board everything went backwards. Everything was manually done. We were printing invoices and purchase orders through the system, but when Eldercare came in they were hand writing invoices, hand writing purchase orders, all that sort of the stuff,” she says.
“Eldercare has obviously come a long way. But it was a bit of a setback for me to start with.
“But council didn’t know how to run a nursing home, really. You find that with a lot of council-run homes and community homes. Realistically, with the background of Eldercare they had the knowledge."
“We [in admin] did everything. Back in those days there were waiting lists, rather than high and low care. So the first person on the waiting list to come in got a place. It was area-based as well, so if you couldn’t get someone [to fill a place] from that area or community, that was when you went outside the area.
“It’s totally different to how strict it is now, with high and low care,” she says.
In recognition of her experience, Leanne was promoted to office manager at Acacia Court, and then took the opportunity to become Project Officer at Eldercare’s head office 18 months later.
“I was asked to do the fees and funding side of it, because I knew it and I knew what I was looking for and was used to dealing with Medicare,” Leanne says.
“I make sure all the fees are correct that we are charging the resident and that we are getting the right funding from the Government.
“Exciting stuff!” she laughs.
When asked about the Federal Government’s upcoming aged care reforms, Leanne remarks: “It’s a bit unknown … the changes are huge and it’s going to impact residents.
“The [Government] changes are gradually getting bigger. They’re making residents more accountable for paying their own fees and paying for their own care, so the Government don’t have to pay as much.
Leanne says that residents will now be assets and income means tested. However, she says that at least now residents can choose how they want to pay, and what combination of fees they would prefer.
Over the past two decades Leanne has noticed that Eldercare residents have changed.
“They are frailer. Back in the day they were more like you and me; some of those people are still [at Acacia Court] today.
“Most people are coming from hospitals, because hospitals need to free up a bed. Many require palliative care before they even get here.
“The care needs are so much higher,” she says.
The Impact of Technology
Leanne says her role has changed with the impact of new technology.
“With this new system we’ve got now (Epicor), it’s a huge help in my job. We used to do manual reconciliations; it’s actually doing it through the system now. There’s less paper work as well. We can save things to files rather than printing them out.
I doubt we’ll ever be totally paperless, but a lot of things will get attached to the system,” she says.
“Electronic records for residents: That’s where we are heading.”
When asked if she could change anything about the aged care industry, Leanne remarks: “Medicare—their system is really frustrating.
“With the Government and their funding, there’s never any reasoning at my level for why things happen—I never get proper answers. It’s like they don’t know what they’re doing half the time. I find dealing with them really difficult. I think since they took [the call centre] out of South Australia it’s just gone downhill.
“When they were here [in SA] they were great, you could get things done, and you could talk to them. Now you ring up and you don’t know who you are going to get.
“I email a lot more now and mark it ‘urgent’ as you need that backup. I’m still trying to get answers for things from years ago,” she says.
Leanne says the best part of her role is the satisfaction that comes from pleasing people.
“Some of the people I deal with are so grateful when you go out of your way to do something for them,” she adds.
“I know what it’s like; it’s hard putting your parents into aged care. It does make people really anxious as they don’t want to let go. You just need to make them feel comfortable with the situation.”
Leanne's 25 years of service with Eldercare was recognised with a small event at Head Office.