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“How do we embed an innovation culture when everyone’s so busy?”

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12 December 2022

News | BaptistCare
Stories | BaptistCare

“How do we embed an innovation culture when everyone’s so busy?”

This is one of the questions Petrina Greenwood asked herself shortly after stepping into the newly-created role of Innovation Manager at BaptistCare at the beginning of 2022.

Seeking to answer that question (amongst others!) and to build relationships with other aged care innovators, Petrina headed to Leading Age Services Australia (LASA). There she learnt how to “create, implement, commercialise, and communicate” innovation ideas, becoming a recognised Aged Services Innovation Manager.

Petrina and four of her fellow innovators were then invited to take part in an innovAGEING webinar, hosted by the course’s facilitator Merlin Kong, who is LASA’s Director of Centre for Workforce Development & Innovation. She noted that, “an invitation to be involved in the panel shows we are making real progress towards a BaptistCare goal of being known as an organisation that is committed to innovation.”

The innovAGEING webinar panel

During the webinar, the host asked Petrina about stepping into the role of Innovation Manager and needing to “prime a culture” to be receptive to innovation. She spoke about the initial tension she felt between stimulating innovative thinking while maintaining business as usual, and how she quickly discovered there was already a passion for it within BaptistCare.

“It gives people a different interest; they see the value and get involved,” she explained.

Petrina went on to talk about the need to “build culture, capability and capacity” for innovation to be successful, and the processes being used to do that.

“We’ve been developing training programs for frontline staff through to the executive… putting together design labs for how we’ll approach design, prototype and pitch, giving frontline staff the opportunity to be involved in those projects,” Petrina shared.

“Where there’s a need or a problem that exists that we’re trying to work on, we’re bringing it under the banner of innovation and providing wraparound support [like] university research, making it as easy and enjoyable as possible for people to engage in alongside their usual work, and ensuring it ultimately adds value to residents and clients.”

That theme of ‘adding value to residents and clients’ was one the panel kept coming back to throughout their broad-ranging conversation, as they grappled with what it looks like to provide person-centred care that is meaningful. They discussed the need to understand the individual desires of the people we care for, finding out what they want and what would make a difference for them, rather than making assumptions or treating our residents and clients as if they’re all the same.

One contributor spoke about innovation not being what innovators do, but what residents and clients adopt. Christopher Hatzidis from St Basil’s Aged Care NSW and ACT said, “It’s not innovative if it’s got 1,000 features and only five are being used,” using the example of providing aged care residents with high-tech phones that they didn’t (or couldn’t) use. When these were swapped for “big button phones, the uptake was much higher.”

That kind of considered innovation can be seen here at BaptistCare, with the popularity of the Breezie tablet amongst BaptistCare at home clients.

In seeking to create positive and genuine change in aged care as a whole, the panel talked about the value of an industry-wide ‘ecosystem’ – the ability to partner with other organisations to explore ways of being innovative. One significant way that ecosystem is being enabled is through the national Aged & Community Care Providers Association (ACCPA), which was formed earlier this year in direct response to the 2021 Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.

In a sign that BaptistCare NSW/ACT is becoming known in the innovation field, Petrina was invited to present at ACCPA’s inaugural National Conference, held in Adelaide in October. Speaking to the theme of “It’s Up To Us,” Petrina discussed how those early questions about building an innovative culture were answered. She highlighted projects that have already been successfully implemented, the processes that have been established, and the sense of achievement and enthusiasm that is building across the organisation.

ACCPA presentation
BaptistCare Innovation Manager, Petrina Greenwood, presenting at ACCPA's inaugural National Conference

“The highlight for me is the momentum that is growing around innovation in the aged care sector,” Petrina said.

“There is a real desire to create better outcomes for clients through digital transformation, the latest technology, and better processes.

“You can concentrate on efficiencies, technology and robotics that ultimately mean the innovation becomes meaningful for the person who gets to experience more meaningful time with their care worker.”

Having forums to connect and share with others who are passionate about innovating is so important. It helps us build partnerships and strengthens collaboration equipping us to fulfil our vision of every individual living well.”

You can watch the full innovAGEING Insights webinar here.