12/06/2020 - 10:05

Signature, Croft to deliver first WA aged care facilities

12/06/2020 - 10:05


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Victorian entrepreneur Graeme Croft has been in the aged care business for more than 35 years, and says he’s been sizing up the Western Australian market for some time.

Signature, Croft to deliver first WA aged care facilities
Graeme Croft will bring three decades’ aged care experience, as an owner, operator, and developer to the WA market. Photo: Paula Andrews Photography

National aged care provider Signature Care plans to deliver more than 430 beds across $80 million worth of projects.

Victorian entrepreneur Graeme Croft has been in the aged care business for more than 35 years, and says he’s been sizing up the Western Australian market for some time.

Mr Croft runs both national provider Signature Care and dedicated aged care property arm Croft Developments.

The enterprise has delivered more than 3,000 operational aged care beds, additionally developing homes for operators including Bupa Aged Care Australia, Opal Aged Care, and the Royal Freemasons across NSW, Queensland, Victoria, and the ACT.

The business is now preparing to deliver its first WA project, last month receiving development approval for a $25 million, 144- bed aged care facility, with an additional 36-bed dementia wing, in Bunbury.

Mr Croft said a development-friendly building sector and unmet demand in WA’s regions provided the opportunity for the business to make its move.

“We’ve got a strong background in bringing quality developments and resident choice in terms of the way we do things,” Mr Croft told Business News.

“A lot of companies want that national footprint and you really can’t do that without WA being in the mix.”

Mr Croft said Signature Care had been successful in the latest Aged Care Approvals Round, a competitive process that allocated a set number of federal government-funded aged care beds to approved providers.

Signature Care was awarded 1,390 beds across four states during the latest round, in 2018-19, with more than 430 of these beds earmarked for WA.

In addition to the Bunbury development, Signature Care’s pipeline comprises two facilities south of Perth city, bringing the group’s total investment to about $80 million.

Mr Croft said there were plans to deliver a 144-bed aged care facility in Singleton, midway between Rockingham and Mandurah, as well as in Dawesville, with both developments to be completed in 2022.

Once delivered, this would place Signature Care as the 11th largest aged care provider in WA, as ranked by number of beds, according to the BNIQ database.

“We’re finding a lot of success, I’d have to say, with the councils and actually getting the approvals through,” Mr Croft said.

“Part of Signature Care’s successful strategy entails the careful selection of the location.

Major factors in selection criteria are accessibility and visibility from major traffic routes, being in the immediate vicinity to newly developed and non-supplied suburbs and … to shopping centres and medical facilities.”

Mr Croft said the group’s reputation for quality, and its capacity as a property developer and aged care provider, were likely reasons that Signature Care was among the nation’s top recipients of approved ACAR places.

“A couple of years ago, the ACAR round targeted 3,000 aged care beds for Perth. There were only 13,000 beds nationally that year and it [Perth] got 10 per cent of the total,” he said.

“The fact there were that many on offer, we thought we’d get in there.

“We’ve been successful in getting developments on the ground and that’s also spurred our success in winning more approvals.

“Everyone can build nice buildings, but it’s also about how you can operate them in an effective way.”

Mr Croft said COVID-19 had not deterred the business, but highlighted Signature Care’s strength in IT integration.

He said residents’ families had been negatively affected by the stringent visiting restrictions put in place as precautionary measures during the pandemic, and losing that physical means of communication made Signature Care’s strategic focus on technology even more important.

“We’re looking at our technology so we can better inform people about the health of their relatives, particularly those carers who place residents in our care,” Mr Croft said.

“We want them to have easy access to information via apps to communicate with them in real time.”

He said the group had no plans to venture into retirement living or invest in other asset classes.

“We started out as a small operator … and really invested our capital back in the aged care market,” Mr Croft said.

“We’ve been in the market for a long time, but we like the two parts to it – the development and operations.

“If we keep those running, then more aged care facilities get on the ground that are high quality.”


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