Guest: Viv Allanson
Presenter: Tabetha Moreto
Guest Bio: Viv Allanson is the CEO of Maroba, a nursing village located in NSW. She is a Director of the Hunter Business Chamber, President of Aged & Community Services NSW & ACT, Vice President of Aged & Community Services Australia and Director of International Association of Homes & Services for the Aged ( Now Global Ageing Network). Viv has devoted herself to caring for and supporting people in need her entire career. She has been awarded the APAC Insiders 2016 CEO of the Year Award, named by CEO Monthly in the 2017 Global CEO Top 100, Awarded as the Compassionate CEO and Best Elderly Care Provider in the Global CEO Excellence 2017 awards.
Segment Overview: In today’s interview, Viv Allanson promotes the services of Maroba, a nursing village located in NSW. It offers an excellent range of services such personal care, nursing, hospitality, administration, maintenance and gardening services to their community residents. She explains why this is the perfect place for your elderly family members.
Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone. Welcome to Health Professional radio. I’m your host for today, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is Viv Allanson, CEO of Maroba. She is also the Director of the Hunter Business Chamber, President of Aged and Community Services New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory, Vice President of Aged and Community Services Australia and Director of International Association of Homes and Services for the Aged. Today, we’re going to talk about her company, Maroba – a nursing village located in New South Wales. They offer personal care, nursing, hospitality, administration, maintenance and gardening services to their community residents. Without further ado, welcome to the show Viv. I’m very happy you can join us today.
Viv Allanson: Thanks Tabetha. I’m very keen to be on the show today.
T: My pleasure. So Viv, please tell the audience more about yourself and Maroba.
V: I’ve been in the healthcare profession for 42 years starting as a 17 year old in the public health sector. I’ve had a wonderful career. I can’t say that I’ve have any involvement that I haven’t enjoyed. But I happened in Maroba for 23 years coming up to next year, my 24th year and that’s being a wonderful opportunity for me as I started as a Director of nursing and then I was invited by the Executive Director of Nursing over all the facilities. Then in 2000 I was invited to be the Chief Executive Officer. It was first time Maroba had one and I’m still in the role since 2000. So, it’s been a very exciting time for me to see the organisation grow and develop and we’re still growing and looking at new services.
T: Fantastic. Speaking of services, what kind of services does your company offer exactly?
V: Well we’re a traditional model of providing aged care nursing services. So in Australia, we call it high-care, low-care or just now the modern terminology is just residential aged care. We’ve been doing that for many decades. We’ve been operating since 1954. But in the last couple of years have been really focusing on changing how we approach our services and moving to a more customer focused framework. We’ve just launched a number of new services internally for our high-care residents to focus on their well-being and their empowerment and enablement. We’ve just about to open a brand new gymnasium. We’ve just imported equipment from Finland. We have extensive physiotherapy and occupational therapy services and exercise groups which are very well attended. We have introduced a day spa, just like you’d have spa therapies and treatments on holidays and on cruise ship, we’re now offering that service to our residents. In the last year or so, we’ve implemented the dining experience so that we’ve upgraded how we provide meals at Maroba. I think aged care is very good at providing food services but when I go out I’d never go for a food service, I go for an experienced. We have introduced that, it’s called the dining experience. Our residents have responded magnificently to that and really enjoying, they have felt greatly upgraded. Even now the food itself hasn’t change but the experience has changed for them. Things like that, that empower people and really in the last years, we’re finding is really we’re making a difference. We’re continuing along that path, and look for ways to make it much more meaningful for people to live here at Maroba.
T: Fantastic. Speaking of Maroba, what separates Maroba from all other nursing villages in Australia?
V: I think it’s something to do with the atmosphere. There’s a real family atmosphere here and we base it on love. We love our people, we love our residents, we love what we do. In fact I made a promise to the staff many years ago, that if I stop having fun, coming to work then it was time for me to leave and I promise them that I would do that. But I’m still having a lot of fun and I’m still loving what I do. And they said honestly, people come to Maroba and they said, “There’s something, I feel something here. I can’t tell you what it is but I feel something, something different.” We’re always striving to improve and make it better for our residents rather than just focusing on “How can I grow the bottom line more?”, “How can I get more out of people?” It’s all about the experience and people having that sense of really belonging and being loved and being cared for in this environment. It’s quite a unique boutique service here in New Castle that people tell me about. I bumped into people all over the place and they tell me their lovely experience of what it was like at Maroba to them and for their family, all the people that they know, that they’ve shared the story. So it’s not just about great, relevant, nice facilities. It’s about what is the atmosphere we’ve created that keeps people generationally coming to Maroba. We have lots of generational employees, generational admissions to the service of families that years and years and years and grandmothers and then their mothers and so it goes on, come to Maroba, because there has been a connection with us and sort of like I think it has to do with the stability of leadership. As I said, I’ve been here 23 years and before that the previous leaders in different roles with 13-14 years and I think that makes a difference to maintaining and growing a culture.
T: I like your philosophy Viv about love. That’s true, love is the most important thing especially when it comes to caring for people. I believe in the saying, “Love makes the world go round”, Viv.
V: It does. It makes it go round smoothly but bumpy.
T: Absolutely. Very well said Viv. Speaking of Maroba, are there any misconceptions about your company that drives you crazy and keeps you up at night Viv?
V: I wouldn’t say, there isn’t much that keeps me up at night, because I feel that I’m surrounded with wonderful staff, wonderful employees, wonderful team members. But the thing is there’s a perception I think that some people feel it well, because of what Maroba is, they wouldn’t be able to afford to live here. They make assumptions based on what they’ve heard. They come to us and they say, “Well, look I can but don’t think I can afford to live here.” Then they were dismayed to find it they can afford to live here just as much as they can afford to live at somewhere that may be offering lesser services or have lesser accommodation. I find that little bit irritating but that’s an issue for us to keep educating our consumers and our public. That it doesn’t mean you have to pay more to be here at Maroba. The other thing, I would say is the future about workforce, that is a concern to me, looking forward to make sure people have the right type of training. We’re seeing a lot of people come through with great technical competence but somehow along the line they’re missing that piece about really understanding issues of humanity and issues around real customer service and putting other people first. We’re coming through a time where the generations are different and so they have different values, different expectations and so we’re looking for ways that how can we embed those characteristics of focusing on humanity and reaching in to people’s humanity, where they’re at. How can we get that embedded that into the life of the care, the life of the service person, the life of someone working with aged people? In fact anyone who’s working in the health sector, because as I go around the health system, whether a private or public hospital, I say the same thing – replicate it. They’re great technically, but somehow they miss making connection with the eyes and the heart.
T: Fantastic. Maroba sounds like an excellent place to live in.
V: Well, I look forward to when I’m a single woman and I look forward to one day I’ll be living here. And I have to say, I’m selfishly making sure that this is a place that I would like to come and live.
T: Okay, very interesting. Viv if you don’t mind, I want to ask you a personal question.
T: Why are you so passionate about this industry. You mentioned earlier, you’ve been in this industry since you were very young. Why are you so passionate about this?
V: From when I was a little girl, all I ever wanted to be was a nurse. Started my career on the front full of passion, that no one was going to talk, they tried to talk to me out of it, I said, “Well, am I not old enough?”, “You haven’t got the right qualification. You’re supposed to be 18. You’re supposed to have a high school certificate, you’re supposed to have English, Math and Science, and all those things. Well, I was 17, I dropped out in 5th form. I didn’t finish my final year of high school, I failed in English, Math and Science in 5th grade, but no one was going talk me out of being a nurse, because that’s I wanted to be, because I believe everyday that I can make a difference and that’s what gets me out. That’s what stirs the passion within me every single day and I believe that I can change the world, one person and one day at the time because of that passion and because I believe I can make a difference. You’re probably surrounded. You realize, you’re surrounded by people all the time, that can never see themselves as being a difference maker. And so they keep affecting the status quo. They keep affecting that, “Well, it’s just highlight fees for me”, but I don’t accept the status quo because I believe that we were put on this earth to be difference makers. Now, that might be to different sorts of people because everybody needs to have a difference made to them. We’re all called something different, but for me, that’s what keeps my passion stirred is a belief that I can make a difference.
T: That was a fantastic story. I agree with you Viv, we are put on this earth for a purpose – to contribute to society and we were put on this earth to make a difference in people’s lives. I absolutely agree with you on that.
V: Thank you.
T: Before we go Viv, what is your main takeaway message to all of our listeners out there? Especially those who are interested in your company’s services?
V: Well I would encourage people Never give up, don’t lose heart but always look to live at the next level and to serve at the next level. Whether that’s beyond your pay grade or not. I encourage that to our people because there is a future in health care, there is a future in aged care and if you want to be a difference maker, start living at the next level now. Don’t wait until you got that title or that job or that increase pay, because when people start to see you’re making a difference and being responsible and doing the right thing, you will get doors open for you. Because guess what? I didn’t apply to be the CEO, I was asked. So I’m a living example of just doing the right thing and having the passion and doors will open for you. Because we need leaders, we need future leaders in our sector, we need visionary people, we need passionate, excited people that can dream big and take people on that journey. That’s what we need, so I say to people do not give up even when there’s opposition, because there’s plenty of that – there’s government legislation, there’s restrictive things that make it hard for you, there’s boards that you got to deal with and lots of people that will want to say no. But just don’t give up. Dream big and hold on to it.
T: Fantastic message. I love it, thank you so much Viv.
V: My pleasure.
T: For those who are interested in Maroba’s services, how can they get in touch with you?
V: We have a website, we have a Facebook page and follow us on Facebook. You can contact us at [email protected] and that will come straight to me. So quite easy, really. Or follow us on Facebook.
T: Fantastic. Thank you so much Viv for coming on the show. I really appreciate it. It was fantastic having you.
V: I enjoyed being here with you. Thank you.
T: And that was Viv Allanson, CEO of Maroba. We’ve just been talking about the wonderful services that her company offers such as personal care, hospitality, maintenance and so on. If you like this interview, transcripts and archives are available at www.hpr.fm. We are on all social media platforms so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. We’re also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.