02/07/2009 - 00:00

People first in aged-care sector

02/07/2009 - 00:00


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AGED-CARE providers have a simple objective - to provide care to those in the community who need it most.


AGED-CARE providers have a simple objective - to provide care to those in the community who need it most.

But securing the resources to provide those essential services is a constant challenge for many charitable organisations, and makes the day-to-day operations of the business a lot more complex.

As UCH, formerly Uniting Church Homes, celebrates its 60th anniversary by honouring those who have helped thousands of Western Australians in need, its chief executive Vaughan Harding said maintaining a balance between charity and corporate body was daunting.

"It's rather a difficult balance to achieve, one of our criticisms at the moment is that we believe the federal government is not meeting its side of the partnership," Mr Harding said.

"The funding we've been provided with is simply not sufficient to really respond to the needs of the community, to be able to grow services, particularly in the care side of things, or to keep our operations viable.

"That side of it is quite a challenge. We use sort of a Peter-Paul principle of using resources from one sector to support the activity and the work of another sector.

"But you can only do so much of that, and we see our core responsibility is to respond to the oldest, sickest and frailest members of our community.

"We need to make sure that we are able to continue to respond to those people."

Mr Harding said UCH owed its longevity against those odds to its employees and volunteers.

"It's not about the organisation, it's about the people involved," he said.

"I think one of the core strengths we've got is that we very much are people-focused and we respond to the needs of individual people."

Despite the efforts of UCH's dedicated staff and volunteers, Mr Harding said more challenges were ahead, due to Australia's rapidly ageing population.

"The baby boomer group are on our doorstep right now, and we'll have many a decade of responding to their needs," he told WA Business News.

"They have certainly been the ones that have driven the consumer revolution, so we would expect that they will be expecting from us a lot larger range of services.

"We think probably they'll be very focused on services in their own home ... and we'll need to become more sophisticated in the products that we are delivering."

Commonwealth reports released in the late 1980s and early 1990s led the governing body of the Uniting Church to amalgamate nine separate care organisations into the entity now known as Uniting Church Homes in 1992.

"They came to the conclusion that we couldn't continue to go in the direction that we were, and we needed to extend the range of services that were available, and also to increase the protections for older people," Mr Harding said.

"That was a defining moment that has enabled us to weather a number of storms that have occurred since then, and the many financial storms that have been imposed on us because of rules and regulations that have been determined by government.

"We think there will be many other challenges ahead of us as we try and meet the rapidly growing needs of our community."


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