Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest: Catherine King
Guest Bio: LINCS Healthcare is owned and operated by Dr John Schmuttermaier (CEO) and Mrs Catherine Schmuttermaier (nee King) Director of Nursing and Managing Director. Based on their professional backgrounds and experiences, both John and Catherine could see an opportunity that would not only allow them to bring their unique skills together, but would allow them the opportunity to be in control of the direction and growth of their company.
Catherine’s qualifications: AFCHSM., MRCNA., CNC., RN., DipMn.
Catherine has over 30 years Nursing experience having worked in the hospital setting for twenty (20) years as a Registered Nurse, Clinical Nurse, and Clinical Nurse Manager, and in the community setting for more than five (5) years for Anglicare (formally Spiritus), and now seven (8) years as an owner and Managing Director of LINCS.
Catherine has experience in project management planning, implementation and monitoring and the ability to balance the need for strategic innovation with operational and organisational stability. She is an effective communicator with all levels of government, departments, people and communities. Catherine also has a very strong commitment to social justice and human rights, and is self- motivated, caring and committed.
In another segment of the Health Professional Radio Health Supplier series, Catherine King, Director of Nursing with LINCS Healthcare discusses the procurement process from the perspective of a personal services provider and the services that they offer. LINCS understand patients want choice when it comes to their personal care, which is why all LINCS’ home care packages can be customised to suit budget and lifestyle. Each care package comprises a list of core services and options which can be bundled together to create a personalised care plan. Catherine tells me that the greatest misconception that her potential clients have is the range of what is possible and how the changing funding environment and rules as they relate to self funded retirees have altered the economics of home based care.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. And this morning, our guest in studio is Catherine King. Now, Catherine is from LINCS Health Care. Good morning Catherine.
Catherine: Good Morning, Wayne. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you.
W: It’s a pleasure to have you on the air with us. We hope that lots of our clinicians will find LINCS is a service that they can educate themselves about and get some value with. So now, I know you’re a supplier to the Health industry Catherine, but what it is that exactly that your firm supplies? And how about your geographic area?
C: Well, LINCS is a private hospital-to-home nursing, allied health and personal care service and we operate predominantly in the Southeast sector of Queensland. We provide services that would be, say, in lieu of hospitalization or rehabilitation to home or as an alternative to aged care residential facilities. So, plus, we also cover palliative care for people who wish to create in their own home rather than in a hospital setting.
W: Okay. Let me come back to your services in just a moment. Do you think of LINCS as the, you know, an old hand in providing services to the government or are you a novice to supplying health departments?
C: We’ve been in the business for eight years so I think we’ve probably, maybe not a novice but certainly not necessarily an old hand. But the staff that we have on board have had many many years of experience, without revealing too much of our ethnic group I guess most of our commissions suit comfortably in the forty to fifty year old age group. So we have a lot of healthcare and nursing experience amongst us.
W: Yeah. Eight years in the business is certainly not a new start-up. That’s a firm with some experience and expertise.
W: Can we talk for just a minute about how it’s been going through the procurement process of becoming a supplier to Health? As you probably know our audience is mainly hospital clinicians and we do get a few from the management side and the admin side of hospitals. But I’ve been talking to health system suppliers about how their perspective of the procurement process is. Are you exclusively with Queensland and Government and in Health, I guess, doing what you do – you’re exclusively health, but it’s only in Queensland and to government that you provide?
C: No, we’re sort of across the range of different types of funding sources and we certainly do have contracts with Q-Health and Department Services but we also have private sub-contracts, currently about twenty eight health funds. And also we do meet the service for our private clients that prefer just to have a private service as opposed to go through government funding or they may not be eligible for government funding – so quite a mix of funding sources there.
W: Okay. Catherine sometimes the clinical staff, they themselves are in a bit of the mercy of the procurement process. Maybe they experience in the output they’re in a long line of the lowest bidders. Do you find that that competitive process causes you grief as a supplier or does that work pretty well for you?
C: It can be quite challenging because to even get onto the list is a process in itself and what we do to belong to different, I guess, or both sides and they notify us when there’s a new tender that’s gonna come out, we’re always on lookout for that. Sometimes we get invited to apply for a tender and other times it could be quite simply just be word of mouth that something’s about to come out, or a phone call from some relevant. How we go, what we do finds it very beneficial. If we aren’t successful in this submission, we always get feedback and that helps us with the next one. So, it’s never a dull moment. If we don’t get admission to it, it’s fine.
W: Yes. Government procurement is a difficult question for everyone’s perspective because on the other side of the coin, when you’re talking to the government procurement people about the complexity of their system, they’ll say, “Well I’d rather use this to make it fair. I’d rather use this to make public expectation for transparency.” And so I understand these issues on both sides of that fence. Let’s go back to your services, what is it that makes your services different to your competitors? Why, if you’re talking to someone in the elevator about, who is looking for care for a patient, what would you say that your services that makes you different?
C: I think our services come from a perspective of varied long case management model, which I think is the absolute cornerstone to providing appropriate care for people in their own home settings. And I guess being small has advantages in that we can move a bit quicker or manage their care plan very exact, very individualized or tallied for that person. I think that’s possibly our biggest advantage. Plus we operate via the “Rapid Response Model” so if we get a referral, we will guarantee that care has been processed for that person within twenty four hours. We appreciate the pressure that hospital systems that are under at the moment to get people, you know, effectively discharged and onto adequate care in the home.
W: That’s a big guarantee, 24 hours.
C: Yes and we’ve done that since our origin. To be quite honest, we saw that there was a need. I’ve worked predominantly in hospitals most of my career, got plenty of ideas and then carried that into the community and I was actually blown away with what could actually take place in someone’s home. From a clinical angle, I was really amazed and just thought, “Well, so much more can happen here.” I was also amazed with the perceptions of people that were predominantly in hospitals, they just don’t know what can happen in the home. And then from a community angle, the community not being fully aware of the pressure hospital systems are under to get people out and adequate care to be put in place. So that’s how LINCS was born and that’s why my husband and I called LINCS “LINCS.” We’re trying to bridge the gap between hospital and home.
W: Catherine, you said so much more can happen both from the perspective of patients but I guess, more so from clinicians.
W: What is an example of something that would not obviously come to mind that’s something that can happen in the home and which can do?
C: That’s a good question. Sometimes I think people become overwhelmed and don’t quite know where to begin. And so my method is always to meet with other clinicians in the hospital or with the patient or the client and their family and just sort of see what exactly is happening. Sometimes, it doesn’t need to go to that 24/7 care solution. Sometimes it could be something that is relatively simple and an example that I’m thinking of: we had a referral of a lady in her late 80s within stage COPD and also Early advanced Dementia who lives on her own. The hospital referred her to us as palliative client. She was very very frail and the family decided that they’d like their mother to be in a Palliative home and so I went out to meet with them and we got to talking and all the medications came out in a classic ice cream bucket. I said, “Well, who is giving Mom, you know, her tablets each day?” All three of them put up their hands. And I went, “Okay.”
C: One of them said “I give Mom her morning’s.” And the other one said, “No, I do the morning tablets. Because Mom has very very short term memory and so what was happening, the girls are popping in asking if she had her tablets and she’d say, “Oh no, not yet Dear.” And so that would go and then the next daughter would pop in and so you can see why every three weeks or so she would go to medical clinical classes. So from that point, we had all the medications and I said, “We’ll do the medications from now on.” And so she go to meet this clinical stability. Would you believe this Christmas we’re coming up to her fourth year at home. So sometimes …
W: Wow. That is an extraordinarily good outcome, isn’t it?
C: It is and it’s not unusual. I think people in hospital – we see them differently, they behave differently, they’re actually very stressed, they’re certainly not themselves and yet in hospital we don’t really, fully understand what’s happening in the home either. And so once you get into the home, you become a bit of a clinical detective in some ways in sort of trying to work out what is the real core issue here and can we address it and if we can, is it sustainable, I guess. Nine times out of ten, it is. If people want to be home, that is where it will work. If people really want to be home and if you can give them the adequate level of care that they need, it has to be a win-win solution from so many different angles.
W: And as I say, a hospital is not a place to go for a rest.
C: You can’t recover in a hospital, I’m a firm believer of that.
C: You need to come home to recover.
W: Yes. Catherine, tell me, what is the biggest customer role or patient misconception about your services that drives you nuts and can keeps you awake at night?
C: I think people would automatically think that to go to a private service is going to be too expensive. And I think that they just think, “Oh darn, Mom needs 24/7… Dad needs 24/7 care. Time to go to a nursing home or residential care facility.” I think if they just took the time, like that lady I just gave as an example about, and try to get to the core issues and then see how much it would cost or what funding that they would be entitled to and I think that there’s so many different options. I don’t think it needs to be that polarized hospital or nursing home. I think there is a whole range of options in between that would very adequately suit many people and would still be quite affordable. So it’s probably the most frustrating thing. I met a man recently whose been doing his own research. His mother is a self-funded retiree and with a lot of changes coming to aged care between the next year or so, a lot of people are going to be means-tested and he said that to pay privately for our service was almost twenty five percent cheaper than to go with a government-funded service that would charge his mother according to her means-tested amount. So I found that really amazing.
W: Wow. That is a big difference.
C: That is a big difference, yeah.
W: From what you’re just saying, your core message then is that there are undiscovered options and alternatives in funding and in care plans that make your service unique.
C: Yes and we also have absolutely fantastic staff. I really give the full credit to the field staff. They’re very committed, very dedicated. They really enjoy the work that they do and they are quite passionate about that whole “helping people to come home and be at home and remain at home.” A lot of the clinicians, of the nurses that I work with hesitated initially coming out to the community because they had this misconception that they would lose their skills. If anything, we spend probably the first several weeks skilling our staff up and really be serious of what that we do particularly with the hospital and home program that we do. So they do quite advanced care with long-term, intravenous, anti-biotics and very complex one cares. We’ve even cared for a young cap that was fully ventilated so that was, you know, probably the most clinically challenging thing that you could do.
W: That’s very clinically challenging, isn’t it?
W: Catherine, thank you for your time this morning.
C: I appreciate it.
W: For our audience who are looking for transcripts, they are available on our website www.healthprofessionalradio.com.au and the copy of this interview will also be available on Soundcloud for those who want to hear about it. Catherine, it’s been a pleasure talking to you this morning and I wish LINCS also the best.
C: Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it.