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It is a pleasure to bring you the highlights of BaptistCare’s year.
BaptistCare and the broader sector experienced many well-publicised challenges throughout the past financial year. Pleasingly our organisation was able to celebrate many successes as well. Our people, and those we serve, have demonstrated great resilience, patience, steadfastness, and above all, commitment in the face of a year that has again tested us.
The COVID-19 health pandemic continued to test our staff, residents and clients, with another variant over Christmas and again throughout winter, causing havoc for our aged care homes. Staff could not take planned leave, and families were unable to gather with residents as they had previously enjoyed.
Vaccination offered excellent protection for our residents, and over the year we saw homes able to operate with fewer restrictions. However, workforce has remained our most significant challenge across our aged care services with COVID-19, reduced skilled migration, continued underfunding from the Federal Government and low wages combining to make this an ongoing and significant issue.
We continued our journey to becoming an Employer of Choice, being recognised in the 2022 AFR BOSS Best Places to Work List, ranking tenth in the Government, Education and Not for Profit list.
We strengthened our advocacy voice, writing an open letter to then Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, calling for immediate support for the aged care sector. The letter was picked up by multiple mainstream media outlets and established an opportunity for us to continue speaking on this issue through to the Federal election. We are hopeful the new Federal Government will make swift and urgent changes for the sector.
We also commenced the development of the organisation’s first Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) in partnership with Reconciliation Australia in May. Our RAP is a collective journey for BaptistCare that will provide a meaningful road map towards greater respect and stronger relationships with First Nations people.
For our Residential teams, a limited workforce has had serious consequences. In May, an unannounced audit by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission of BaptistCare Orana Centre occurred. The Commission identified multiple areas of concern about the care and services at Orana Centre. BaptistCare took immediate steps to respond to each point of non-compliance and has placed a team of experienced leaders from across BaptistCare and externally into the home to bring it back up to the standards expected.
The care of our residents has remained paramount, while a focus on continuous improvement has seen our teams and homes delivering innovative programs and approaches. These include implementing a digital pain assessment tool, a digital medication management platform and partnering in the National Aged Care Medication Roundtable.
Our Community Housing team progressed our Social and Affordable Housing Fund development in Carlingford, with the final 162 units due to open in February 2023. Our Five Dock housing, Kitty Doyle Apartments, was also a finalist in the Urban Development Institute of Australia Development Awards for Excellence following its redevelopment in 2021.
Our Community Services teams have walked alongside people experiencing many personal challenges. The housing crisis made worse by flooding, the pandemic and cost of living pressures has reached new highs. At the same time, domestic and family violence continues to see women and children in search of safe housing and support to rebuild their lives. In March, a newly renovated cottage opened for HopeStreet Women’s Space in St Marys. The welcoming space and day refuge for women facing challenges and at risk of marginalisation provides shower and laundry facilities, emergency food and toiletries, and case management support.
We are excited to see how we can create much-needed accommodation and places for the whole community to visit and enjoy.
Work also commenced on the redevelopment of Caloola Centre in Wagga Wagga, with the aged care home to feature 80 single rooms divided into five households and a new café. The existing Caloola Centre will remain open while construction of the new home occurs around it, with completion due in mid 2023.
The financial viability of the aged care sector has deteriorated over recent years, and we have not been immune from this trend. While we recorded a net deficit for the year, we have maintained a strong cash flow position. We have continued to incur costs associated with COVID-19 in protecting our staff and customers. The pandemic has also contributed to lower occupancy across our aged care homes and has restricted our ability to expand service to home care clients. We are confident our five-year strategy and continued advocacy for increased funding and reform for the aged care sector will realise enhanced financial viability and performance in future years.
We acknowledge the passing of Roger Peffer in May 2022. Roger was the inaugural chair of BaptistCare (then Baptist Community Services) when it converted from the Baptist Homes Trust in 1992. He held this position until 2001, and we are indebted to his contribution to BaptistCare’s legacy.
Finally, to our Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Teams, we extend a heartfelt thank you for your expertise, guidance and wisdom over the year in steering our organisation.
To our staff, volunteers and partners, you are what makes BaptistCare the caring and vibrant organisation we are.
As this year closes, we choose hope and optimism. We know that through prayer, diligence and courage, BaptistCare is transforming lives, even on our hardest days. We “look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11), and we give thanks to our Heavenly Father for the privilege it is to serve and care for people in His name.
Chief Executive Officer