The recently announced royal commission into the treatment of people with a disability is likely to be just as confronting and must be taken just as seriously.Alison McQueen
Why did you become a registered nurse?
After working in the disability sector as an assistant in nursing (AIN)/student nurse I became a registered nurse in 2000, as I really wanted to expand my career options and experience in the acute care sector. I have always enjoyed working in a caring role and couldn't imagine doing anything else.
What did your time as a clinical advisor in the private health insurance teach you?
I learnt a lot about some of the difficulties and challenges that people living with acute and chronic illnesses can face as they navigate the healthcare system. This has taught me how to help people understand the health system and support them through it because I have been able to put things I have learnt into practice.
Why did you found Newcastle & Hunter Community Health?
The catalyst was the shift from institution-based care, to promoting independence in the Disability and Aged Care sectors. This gave consumers choice in care and providers and I felt there was an opportunity for a new locally-owned provider to enter the market. From a personal perspective it allowed me to combine my clinical, business and management experience and really ensure the services were delivered in a person-centred way.
What are its services?
Our overarching goal is to provide the support and services to help older Australians and people with a disability to live their best life as independently as possible. Our team consists of registered nurses, enrolled nurses, nursing assistants and professional staff whose services are tailored specifically to the needs of each individual client and their family. Importantly, we also offer carer support. Sometimes people forget that carers have individual needs too, so we provide respite for carers.
Which services are most in demand?
Services range from high level clinical needs such as wound care and management of skin integrity, medication management, chronic disease management, continence management and personal care to nutrition, hydration, meal preparation and diet support. We can provide mobility and dexterity support, coordinate allied health and therapy services, and take care of general household services. Social access is another important service we provide to ensure our clients remain actively engaged with their family, friends and the wider community.
How is your service unique?
We know the needs of Novocastrians because this is our community too. We are a locally owned and family operated business, small enough to know each client and their family, yet big enough to provide optimum care by understanding their individual needs.
Our key point of difference is that we become a true partner in the care of our clients and their families. Feedback points to that personal connection and our life-long connection to the local community providing a real feeling of trust that our clients appreciate.
How do you find the NDIS?
The NDIS has been a game changer for the disability services industry. It has empowered people living with a disability, their families and carers to develop a support package individual tailored to their needs.
By allowing participants to choose who they wish to support them, what outcomes they want to achieve and the supports they will use, provides a sense of independence and control over the way they live their life.
Given the sheer size of the reforms, there was always going to be a settling in period and some hiccups were to be expected. I am pleased that the NDIA has listened to feedback from participants, carers and service providers like us, and taken steps to address areas of concern.
The royal commission into aged care nursing homes rang alarm bells in the community. What reform is needed?
It's vital to have the highest standard of care and the right level of support. While it may be the case that some of our clients' incapacities may eventually result in full-time aged care, our goal is to support them for as long as possible. Having said that, evidence to the royal commission was extremely confronting. It is clear there have been serious failings that need to be addressed.
The recently announced royal commission into the treatment of people with a disability is likely to be just as confronting and must be taken just as seriously.
As a private operator, what accountability checks must you meet?
Registered Disability and Aged Care Providers are required to meet the same quality standards of care and work within relevant legislative requirements such as the Aged Care Act 1997, National Disability Insurance Scheme Act 2013 and Quality of Care Principles 2014. This is regardless of size, structure or location, meaning our clients can rest-assured that our services are as safe and effective as any other large provider.