03/02/2011 - 00:00

Service access key for MercyCare

03/02/2011 - 00:00


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RECENTLY appointed MercyCare CEO Chris Hall is in the process of developing a new strategic plan to better integrate the wide variety of services the community organisation provides.

Service access key for MercyCare

RECENTLY appointed MercyCare CEO Chris Hall is in the process of developing a new strategic plan to better integrate the wide variety of services the community organisation provides.

Mr Hall joined MercyCare last November after undertaking a comprehensive study of mergers and other alliances across the sector, visiting more than 50 organisations in two months in the UK and US as part of a Churchill Fellowship awarded in 2009.

He has worked in the community service industry for more than 30 years, with the past two decades in senior management roles. His principal focus has been around organisational change management such as mergers and acquisitions.

“We’ve got the advantage of having a whole suite of services that can provide care for people basically from birth to death; not a lot of organisations necessarily have that,” Mr Hall said.

“So what we’re looking at doing, is how do we provide that suite of services, in a way that people can easily access those services without them being split up and siloed in their approach.“

MercyCare, based in Wembley, provides community services in the aged-care sector, family services such as day care, foster care and youth services, and operates the Mercy Hospital in Mount Lawley.

The organisation, started by the Sisters of Mercy in 1846, was handed over to lay administration in 2002. It currently has more than 1,200 staff and volunteers and annual revenue of $85 million.

Mr Hall said the most important thing in organisational change was how it affected those who used the services.

“Whatever we do organisationally has to be with the purpose to provide a better outcome for the people we are here for. If it’s not, then why are we doing it?” he said.

MercyCare plans to appoint a new CFO and create a human resources role as well as look at new avenues of funding.

“All organisations need to diversify their income base and increase their revenue. That is the only way to survive in the current funding environment,” Mr Hall said.

“If you don’t do that you are very limited in terms of your ability to meet what are very complex needs in the community.”

He said the organisation’s services were in greater demand due to challenges around affordable housing, alcohol and drug abuse, and mental health issues. In addition, growing numbers of two-income families were struggling due to higher mortgage and utility costs.

The demands from the aging population also far exceeded those he had seen previously, according to Mr Hall.

The draft report of the Productivity Commission’s ‘Inquiry into Caring for Older Australians’, released last month, acknowledged that the aged-care sector was not sustainable into the future unless changes to funding arrangements were made and a more effective service delivery implemented.

According to the report, taxpayers predominantly funded formal aged-care services in Australia, with some user co-contributions. In the financial year ending 2009, the total nationwide expenditure on aged-care services by federal and state governments was about $10.1 billion.

Mr Hall said managing community organisations was complex because they usually had more stakeholders to consider than for-profit businesses and had a high level of compliance and legislative requirements.

“It’s a constant juggling act but the reality is that these sorts of organisations are being required to operate much more as businesses and yet deliver a social return,” he said.

“And that’s the challenge that we face in balancing that, so we don’t lose sight of the critical importance of our mission, why we’re here in the first place as an organisation.”



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