St. Ives Home Care [transcript][audio]

Guest: David Cox  

Presenter: Tabetha Moreto

Guest Bio: David has the unique ability of applying clinical, governance and business metrics to the aged care environment. He has almost 25 years of experience in the healthcare industry, with experiences in both for-profit and not-for-profit aged care settings across Australasia.

He is the Chair of a not-for-profit provider of residential aged care and retirement living in Western Australia; a Director of one of Australia’s largest providers of not-for-profit specialist therapy services in the disability sector; and a Partner and the Head of Operational Strategy at Ansell Strategic. David is also a Registered Nurse with postgraduate clinical qualifications and an MBA. His experiences as the Vice President of Global Sales, Marketing and Clinical Affairs for a number of publicly listed biotechnology companies have enabled the development of unique operational, business development and consumer directed services planning skills.

Segment overview: David Cox talks about the St. Ives Home Care, their services, and how the partnership with AlayaCare can help them deliver quality care plans to their clients. St. Ives and AlayaCare plan to deliver an innovative end to end client information, health and experience management solution to private home care clients and their families

TRANSCRIPT – St. Ives Home Care

Tabetha Moreto: Hello everyone. Welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host for today, Tabetha Moreto. Our guest today is David Cox. David is the Chief Operating Officer of St. Ives Home Care. Today we’re going to talk about his company St. Ives Home Care, the leading Australian home care provider and their new partnership with home care software platform provider, AlayaCare. Without further ado, welcome to the show David. I’m so happy you can join us today.

David Cox: Thank you. It’s a pleasure to be here.

T: Yes. Okay, so David please tell us more about your company St. Ives Home Care.

D: Thank you. So St. Ives Home Care is part of the larger group Home Care Holdings and we provide home care and community services to clients throughout Australia. We operate in five states and we are offering community services, social services, transport services, home care and maintenance services and complex nursing services to a whole range of clients both in metropolitan and regional areas around five states of Australia. So we’re covering pretty much the whole country.

T: Wow. It sounds like you have a very big company David. You must be very proud of your company.

D: Yes. It’s very exciting, but we’re actually new as a company. We’ve split from a previous group that was owned by the motoring trade association in WA called the RAC. The RAC had retirement living residential aged-care which is our term for nursing homes and home care services. And finance home care has grown so much in its own right, that we are now our own entity.

T: Excellent. So now David this sounds very interesting. Can you tell the audience more about this new partnership between your company and AlayaCare?

D: Yes, we’re very excited to join a partnership with the AlayaCare. AlayaCare, a Canadian company and a new entrant into Australia. We operate in a fairly remote model and we actually have our support workers or our nurses and our carers that are actually out in the field. And it’s absolutely fundamental that we can communicate with them in an effective and efficient manner. We have a software solution at the moment, but we’re finding that we need to go to the next step and we need to be much more interactive with our clients and their loved ones, so that they can see information real-time and that we can actually track our staff and support ourselves out in the field. We can only do this with a system like AlayaCare.

T: That sounds interesting. Can you tell us why did your company decide to partner with AlayaCare instead of another company?

D: It’s really interesting because there are a number of providers actually in Australia at the moment, but we were really looking for something different and a company that would actually go along with the journey with us. We’re very client focused, which is fairly unusual in our environment which is typically funded by the government. Progressively becoming more consumer orientated because our consumers are asked to pay more money now towards their care. We recognize that actually satisfying the customer or our client is absolute paramount and so we wanted to find a solution provided that would work with us, to actually provide alternative solutions that interact more with clients and offer them an experience that other providers can’t. So AlayaCare comes with that nimble approach that they can actually work with us, working with our systems and work with our ambitions to provide something that’s truly different to our consumers.

T: That sounds excellent. Well I hope the partnership between you and AlayaCare will last for a long time.

D: Yes, so do we. We’re in the early stages of the journey but so far it’s been a tremendous journey. We have a lot of change to go through as part of our transformation into our consumer orientated environment and working with AlayaCare so far has been fantastic because they really understand our market. Although, they’re new to it. They’re used to working in the North American market which is already quite consumer oriented.

T: That’s wonderful. Now David, let’s talk about your company more especially when it comes to your workers. So can you tell us what qualifications, experience or training do you require of your workers?

D: We employ a whole range of support workers and staff that actually meet with our clients and care for our clients. We have a range of domestic style services and direct care services. Those staff generally go through what we call a Certificate III in training in other community care or care services. And they’re providing quite complex care at times, so they need to undergo a fair bit of training. They cover things like first-aid and safety and even customer service, so that we can actually ensure that we’re meeting the client needs. Our more technical staff, our registered nurses, enrolled nurses, our therapy assistants and our coordinators undergo a different range of training, either clinically based or customer focus based, so that we can adequately serve our clients.

T: That sounds wonderful. So what is your caregiver hiring process like?

D: Hiring caregivers in Australia is difficult because it’s difficult to attract a staffing cohort in some of our metropolitan areas. So we have to think outside of the box and we use a combination of an electronic on-boarding system and face-to-face on-boarding as well. So we go through the traditional interview process but we actually ask our staff to on-board electronically by themselves. We then go through an orientation phase where we go through a corporate induction and then a face-to-face orientation in the office. Our staff are then supported out in the field for a couple of days with what we call area team leaders and the area team leaders are giving that face-to-face support actually out in the client’s homes. A support staff are then supported on our ongoing basis by the team leaders because they actually then become their supervisors out in the field and their primary contact on a day to day basis. We then provide a range of other support and education processes throughout our staff’s tenure with us. Part of that is around mandatory competencies, so all of our staff have to go through competencies based on safety or security or occupational health and safety. And then we offer elective education as well. I’m proud of that it’s a mentorship program where our staff have the opportunity then to progress into a team leadership role or into a more management type role.

T: Wow. That sounds like a very complicated process.

D: It is. It’s actually very hard to actually keep our communication with a remote workforce. So our staff don’t come into our offices each day and they work remotely in their own area or their own cluster. And so we have to try and get ways to actually communicate with our staff on a regular basis and stay engaged with them, even though we don’t see them on a day to day basis. So as a manager, it’s quite difficult because you don’t have the opportunity to walk around to an office and have a chat to support staff that are in the field. So we have to think outside of the box and be a little bit more creative with how we support our staff.

T: Yes, very interesting. Speaking of your staff David, can you tell us how many employees do you have in St. Ives Home Care?

D: We have around about 600 full-time equivalent employees. We then use a range of contractors for specialized services. Things like a maintenance services and the like, we actually partner with other groups. We also have a sister company called Our Injury Treatment or Optimize. And they actually help us in the provision of allied health professionals. So we have additional supports in addition to our regular cohort or our in-house team.

T: Okay, that’s very nice. So David earlier you mentioned about it’s hard for you to keep track of your workers especially they don’t come to the office basically. So how are you able to supervise your workers in order to make sure the proper care is given to your clients?

D: This is where AlayaCare comes in a lot as well because AlayaCare can actually track our staff in terms of when they’ve actually arrived into a client’s home, when the services are being delivered and when they’re actually leaving. And AlayaCare is very clever in that it’s actually going through a Care Plan process with staff actually open up the care plans. And when those tasks are completed in accordance to the care plan, they’re actually checking off that they’re actually completed. If a staff member leaves the home without checking off one of those tasks, then it will actually send an alert to our central client coordination team and that client coordination team will then be alerted that something hasn’t quite happened the way it should have. That gives them the opportunity to get in direct contact with the support staff to ask what has actually happened and whether that they managed to made some changes to the care plan or some additional support to the client. The same thing happens with our incidences. So if there is an incident, we actually have a hotline and I can actually call our central office where their concerns are addressed and we can actually put in strategies to care for the client immediately if there is an urgent situation. It’s also around quite at staff safety so that we make sure that if there is an incident that we’ve got the opportunity to talk directly with the staff to make sure that they’re safe and happy and feel supported in the management of that incident.

T: Wow. It sounds like your partnership with the AlayaCare is really benefiting your company and your clients as well.

D: It’s not quite up in place at the moment, so we’re still working on test modules at the moment but this is our plan and this is where we think that we will get huge benefit. So it means that we are able to contact our staff directly, our staff to either request shifts. There will be out of view when client services are scheduled and they can actually pick according to those services. We can actually allocate client services to start based on credentials but also based on preferences. So if our client has a specific preference for somebody that speaks French, well then that will actually be recorded in our system and will be able to match a french-speaking staff member to that client if they’re available and they meet the other credentials. So it gives us a really good opportunity to increase our client satisfaction with the staff they’re actually turning up. We’re also trying to connect our staff to our clients more and by having a client portal where they can actually see the staff, they can see who’s coming, they can see a photo of that staff member and they can even read a little bit about staff members’ other life, their home life. We feel that they will actually connect the support worker with the client before the support worker even comes and knocks on the door. So we’re trying to make those connections around relationship and around support a lot earlier than what we are now. So it’s very exciting. We think it’s going to make a huge difference to us.

T: Yes, that sounds wonderful. Speaking of your clients, earlier you mentioned like for example if there’s a client that requires someone who speaks French. So speaking of these plans, do you create other kinds of personalized care plans for your other clients?

D: We do, all of our care plans are individualized. So all of our clients go through a journey and that journey is identifying where they’re at now and their future state or where they want to be in the future. So what are their short-term and long-term goals and then we actually ask our clients what they think they need to actually to reach those goals. So for most clients they will actually say that their goal is to stay at home as independently as possible and we’ll actually dive down to see why that’s really important to them. Is it around their pets or is it around staying in their local community and the social supports that they get? And then we can actually start working with the client to establish exactly what the care they’re looking for. Most come to us thinking that they’ll receive domestic services or personal care services but if looking after their dog is the most important thing to a client, then we’ll actually help facilitate that so that we will actually put in services to make sure that they are supported to look after their dog and that in turn allows them to stay at home and do things that they really love. So we’re going through this kind of AlayaCare process, a whole change in the way that we plan for care. We’ve actually spent a lot of time with customer engagement coach and our client services team who actually undertake the care planning process. We’re really trying to think outside of the box and look at what specifically is important to the client and what we need to do outside of the box to achieve that. So we’re really trying to make it an individualized process for clients. Clients don’t want to fit into a box and we have to work on a possible work around that and achieve their goals.

T: That’s excellent David. I’m very happy that your company really thinks out of the box when it comes to home care.

D: We’re really trying. We’re coming from an environment where we have a very traditional set processes around how care is delivered. And now that the legislation is passed in Australia, that has really gave us an opportunity to think outside of the box and think really what does the consumer or the client really, really want. And how do we go about actually delivering those services because ultimately no one wants to go into residential care. They want to stay at home. They want to live independently. In doing that, the services we provide must be very, very specific for the clients to make sure that they achieve those goals.

T: Wonderful. I know David earlier you mentioned about customer satisfaction but I’m still going to ask you the question. Do you guarantee 100% satisfaction?

D: No, we don’t. We don’t satisfy all of our clients and I think it’s unrealistic for everyone to say that they do. These are very complex clients and sometimes they have multiple social issues and they have the pressure of staying at home and coping and they have physical constraints as well that complicate things. So we know that we don’t always get it right. We know that the the funding framework doesn’t allow things to always get right. But we are, we do give the guarantee that if somebody is unhappy and they make contact with us that we will actually respond and we genuinely try to achieve client’s goals. So if somebody isn’t happy, it’s quite expected, and it’s quite normal especially when you come onto a new service. But we then have to address those concerns and actually make sure that we meet the client’s needs. That’s what’s really important to us.

T: Wow. Thank you for your honest answer David, because most people would automatically say, “Oh yes we guarantee 100% satisfaction.”

D: I think it’s unrealistic and we don’t know our clients the first time we meet them. So we do get it wrong every so often. What’s really important is recognizing that we get it wrong and then actually rectifying it but that’s what’s really hard. And every so often there is a client that we actually can’t make their care needs and sometimes we actually have to recognize that. So because of financial restraints, or because of funding restraints, because of care need requirements, sometimes we can’t provide that care in the home and we have to be really honest about that to make sure the client stays happy and safe and find alternatives for them. So it doesn’t happen very often but unfortunately it does happen.

T: Very well said David. Okay, so here’s the interesting question now. Are there any misconceptions about home care you would like to clear up on the show today?

D: I think that the people sometimes have different expectations and different thoughts about what home care actually is. People universally find home care difficult to enter. They have to have an approval through the government body and they are frustrated by that. But we actually have alternatives where they don’t have to wait for that government process to occur. We have very discounted services for people that are waiting for government approval so that they can actually receive care at home and not have to go into residential care while they’re waiting for their government approval. So I think there’s a misconception that some clients actually have to sit in the background on my services to come to them. But in actual fact there are alternatives for them and those alternatives are individualized, so that they can make sure the kinds of service and stay at home until they can actually go into home care. Some people also have the misconception that home care is very expensive and that’s just not the case. We can actually tailor programs to actually make sure that we meet people’s financial constraints and that we seek government funding wherever possible to support them within that framework. So there are always alternatives for people to stay at home with homecare. And those alternatives are infinitely cheaper than having full-time at home, people from the family at home or in fact going into residential care. So we think there are legitimate misconceptions around the cost of care.

T: Thank you very much David for clearing up those misconceptions today about home care. David if you don’t mind, I want to ask you a personal question. Why are you so passionate when it comes to home care?

D: We think that home care is really an exciting space to be in. We know that people love living at their home and they love having their family around them and we think that the family home is the place to do it. We also know that people are entering retirement villages for their security but they’re seeking additional services within those retirement villages and sometimes it’s not appropriate for a retirement village to deliver those care services. We have partnerships where we actually go into retirement villages and we love actually spending time with our families and our clients in their own home. We can see benefits and those benefits are social, they’re health related but they’re also contextual around their previous life and delivering home care services is so satisfying to see people enjoy the lives they’ve always led.
T: That’s wonderful. Now David what is your main takeaway message to all of our listeners?

D: Home care is a great space to be in. It is a complex especially for providers because of the legislative frameworks that you have to comply in and people think that they can become home care providers easily. But it’s very complex, it shouldn’t be complex for clients however and we think it’s super important to provide an open and transparent service to our clients that’s simple and engages them. We think that we went on the road to actually achieving that and our partnership with AlayaCare is going to do a lot to help us along that journey. We think it’s a really exciting time to be in home care.

T: Excellent message David. Now for those who want to get in touch with you at St. Ives Home Care, how can they do that?

D: Well they can actually phone St. Ives Home Care. Our head office is located in Western Australia but we are nationwide. I can actually do that by jumping onto our website. It is or they can call us on 1300 20 20 03. It’s really easy to get hold of us and we love to chat to people about the home care journey and we welcome their call.

T: Thank you very much David for coming on the show today.

D: It’s a pleasure. Thank you for having me.

T: And that was David Cox, Chief Operating Officer of St. Ives Home Care. We’ve just been talking about his company and the partnership it has forged with home care software platform provider AlayaCare. If you liked this interview, transcripts and archives are available at We are also on all social media platforms so don’t forget to follow, like and subscribe. We are also available for download on SoundCloud and iTunes. I’m Tabetha Moreto and you’re listening to Health Professional Radio.

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