Not-for-profit Community Owned Organisation Providing Individualised Service to Residents [Interview][Transcript]

Linda_Austen_Millhaven_LodgeGuest: Linda Austen
Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest Bio: Linda Austen, CEO of Millhaven Lodge has worked in nursing and healthcare management for nearly 40 years. She has worked for mostly not for profit organisations and public hospitals. She has qualifications in nursing, management, counselling and interior design for health care. Currently, she manages 104 residential beds and 8 independent units and has worked on several building projects within the health care setting. She has been at Millhaven Lodge for 12 years.

Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, know more about the features of the Millhaven Lodge as we are joined by their CEO Linda Austen. They offer several different facilities for our residents, a 38 Bed Nursing Home for High Care residents, a 43 Bed Hostel for Low Care residents, a boutique 14 bed unit for low care and private respite and a 12 Bed Special Care Unit for residents suffering dementia. They also feature large airy rooms, homely kitchen facilities, sheltered courtyards and well maintained gardens. Their caring, qualified staff deliver highly individualised care.


Health Professional Radio

Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest today is Linda Austen – the CEO of Millhaven Lodge. And Linda is talking to us from Melbourne in Australia. Linda welcome to Health Professional Radio.

Linda Austen: Thanks Wayne. Nice of you to invite me.

W: That’s our pleasure. Now Linda, many of our listeners who are particularly those outside of Victoria may not have heard of Millhaven Lodge, can you fill us in and give us a bit a background what it is and what you do?

L: Yeah, we’re a stand-alone not for profit aged care facility, residential. And we also have some independent living units attached to us. And we were originally a hospital back in 1920 and a bush nursing hospital and then we went into aged care which is our core business now. So we’ve been doing that for about 40 years.

W: Well it’s certainly a business that’s growing with the way the population is shaped in Australia at present.

L: Yeah, it certainly is.

W: Now how big a facility are you?

L: Well we’ve got a 104 beds and just 8 independent units at this point in time, that are attached to us which are like mini phases if you like. We look after those people, but we don’t actually help them on a day to day basis. But the people in, we have High Care, Low Care and Dementia Care. And we also offer Respite Beds and we’ve just started offering private Respite for a fee just an emergency for people, which is something new that we do.

W: Now tell me a little bit about the facility. You say it’s an ex hospital from the 1940’s, was it?

L: 1920’ – 1928 they first started the organization, but the building was built in, then rebuilt in the 70’s. And we’ve just finished massive renovation and made it look beautiful so.

W: I had visions of high ceilings and cast iron balcony rails and things from the 1920’s. (Laugh)

L: Oh, that would be nice. We were in a little house when it was the original hospital. It was just a little house and it had 6 patients in it. And then they started adding maternity wards and that sort of thing. And then I started moving 1 ward into the aged care, and then they rebuilt the whole thing on a different site.

W: Now many of our audience Linda, in fact about 95% of them are clinicians of one kind or another – doctors, nurses, allied health professionals, mainly either in acute care and hospitals or in aged care. So what’s the message you’d like them to take away today, particularly I guess the aged care people already know about you. But for those in acute care, what would you like them to hear?

L: Well I suppose one of the biggest problems we’ve got is all the red tape that we’ve got that obviously comes from the government trying to improve things. But we’re finding with the new system that we’ve got, we’re getting people keen to place people from the acute sector. And what they’re doing is they’re telling people to go out and look at 5 or 6 different places and put their name down, before they’re really ready to. And so I’m having to tell them to go away and have their assessment done and come back and put your name on our list only if you want to come and go to our facility. And they need this, if you’re ready to come. Because otherwise little old ladies in retirement villages will put their names down for the 3 years hints when they might need it. And so when I’m checking my waiting list I’m going through sometimes hundreds of people who try, to find people that are really ready to come right now.

W: That’s an interesting perspective, I haven’t considered that.

L: Well we sort of mostly we’re with a lot of hospitals. We’ve got a good relationship with hospitals and they understand our system – the one’s that we work with now directly. But when I work with other hospitals they don’t realize the importance of having an assessment done. So at first we out where to place people because we’ve got distinct High and Low and dementia care areas, and according to their clinic people need. And the other thing is assistant, the government… use of phase where they say “Oh you can buy your room sort of thing for a certain price and you’ll never have to move.” But in actual fact from a clinical point of view that doesn’t work because people’s needs change. So we thought of negotiate with people but we do like people to know that sort of don’t assume that you’re getting the same room forever. So we’ll do the best for you, but your needs might change.

W: It is a difficult category of healthcare to provide. And as you say people’s needs change and things alter and trying to then get an administrative layer over the top of that from the government’s point of view, I understand their difficulties as well.

L: Yeah, I can imagine. There’s lot of difficulties that people look. But I’ve been in the industry for at least 40 years myself. And I’m sort of one of the next crop of people coming in and I know how demanding us baby boomers can be.

W: Yeah, well I’m in the same category. And we baby boomers are used to getting our own way. So I do have great sympathy for anyone who has to care for us in our 80’s,

L: Yes.

W: Linda my favorite question in every interview is about misconceptions. What’s the biggest misconceptions around your clients, your patients, funding bodies, the biggest misconceptions that drive you nuts?

L: That we’re gonna fix people.

W: Right.

L: I think simply families have these ideas that when they come in to us that we’re gonna fix them. I mean some people don’t realize that it’s really not always a downhill spiral, sometimes we can fix people. And we’ve got a few cases where people have improved and still manage to go back in the community, but that’s rare. We can’t always stop people from falling, we can sort of be around and help them – but we can’t fix people. And the doctors can’t fix people, we can just make their life as pleasing as possible.

W: That’s a very insightful comment on the aged care sector actually, isn’t it? Linda how can people get in touch? Is the website the best way for people to find out more information and get in touch?

L: Yeah, our website. I’m with sort of a one-man-band, I do the Facebook and the website, and I manage all that sort of things myself. Because I don’t have a head office to go to but if anybody wants to know, in Victoria, in the Southeastern area, Pakenham, I think most people know us now and we’ve here long enough. Just our website or directly.

W: And that’s

L: That’s it.

W: Now I get into trouble for saying domain names too quickly and people send me notes going “Oh what was that domain name?” So fair warning pencils ready, it’s M I L L H A V E N L O D G E all one word dot org dot au. Linda Austen CEO of Millhaven Lodge, thank you for your time today. It’s been a pleasure having you on air with us.

L: Oh thank you for that. Thanks for being prompt as well.

W: If you’ve just join us today, you’ve just missed my conversation with Linda. But the good news is we have a transcript on our website or you can listen to an audio archive of the whole interview on YouTube and SoundCloud, and you can find links to all those resources on our website at My name is Wayne Bucklar and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

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