Year in Review 2019/20

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General Manager & Chair Report

Photo of Michael ScurrahMichael Scurrah General Manager
Photo for Allen LindAllen Lind Chair

This year was certainly one to remember. Responding to the unprecedented situation of the COVID-19 pandemic has presented both challenges and opportunities for learning and innovation. Our commitment to continue to deliver assessment services in such an unusual time is testament to our strength as an organisation. Our systems, processes, ability to adapt and innovate, and the willingness of our people in their unwavering common purpose in supporting our clients has shone through.

Australian Bushfires

Now known as 'black summer', the bushfires of 2019/20 heavily impacted many of our regions across New South Wales and Queensland. This resulted in evacuations, many assessors, clients, and families having access issues and delays to face to face assessments. During this time, Aspire4Life implemented workplace health and safety processes to ensure all staff remained safe, in line with our disaster management plans.

Response to COVID-19

Enduring a pandemic with strong culture and employee resilience does not just happen through luck. Aspire4Life has shown that sound planning and leadership can achieve notable results throughout a year of challenges and uncertainty.

Our response to the Coronavirus Pandemic included a structured and governed pandemic response plan. This ensured that the safety of our staff, clients and their loved ones was our number one priority. Over the year, Aspire4Life management remained in close and regular communication with the Department of Health to ensure the continuity of our assessment services. Aspire4Life is committed to supporting older Australians to live their best lives, on their terms and in a location that they feel most comfortable. While the length of COVID-19 is still unknown, we are well positioned to continue to support the safety of older Australians.

Community Engagement

During this reporting period Aspire4Life continued to work on the Far North Coast Indigenous Connections Project. We worked with the Casino Boolangle Local Aboriginal Land Council, Ngulingah Local Aboriginal Land Council and community elders within the Bundjalung people, who are the original custodians of the northern coastal regions of New South Wales. This project is delivered collaboratively and aims to provide pathways, guidance and appropriate supports for the Bundjalung people. We have seen success from this project and look forward to it’s expansion. We will be adding additional working groups across New South Wales and Queensland, as part of our first steps towards a Reconciliation Action Plan.

Establishment of new Governance model

Aspire4life officially separated from Feros Care in November 2019 through a resolution of the board and members. This enabled us to become an independent business entity with a new and independent Board of Directors. While Aspire4Life is still connected to Feros Care as a sister entity, with an agreement in place for use of corporate shared services, we are no longer a controlled subsidiary under a body corporate model.

Royal Commission and Reform

At the time of this report the Royal Commission has highlighted significant concerns about our current Aged Care system. The Australian Aged Care market has seen unprecedented changes over the past 5 years, and has been in a state of significant transition. Over this time of change, Aspire4Life has been successful in embracing opportunities as they emerged. As much of the industry underwent review and redesign Aspire4Life has been a strong, stable and reliable partner for the Federal Government.

The Australian Federal Government has invested heavily in the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. We can expect further changes with the final report due in February 2021. The health and wellbeing of older people receiving aged care services is the overwhelming priority of the Government, and we believe that Aspire4Life is prepared for the upcoming changes and recommendations from the Royal Commission’s report.

Aspire4life has had a very successful year with its major role of providing Regional Assessment Services to clients in New South Wales and Queensland. We have achieved our set targets and have been acknowledged by the Department of Health for our high quality of services provided by our committed team. Financially we have achieved a very successful positive profit over the past year and are seeking opportunities to expand and diversify our base into the future. Our achievements over the first year as an independent entity has been exceptional.

Our Culture and People

Our 2019 conference titled "Building our Tribe" saw staff come from all parts of New South Wales and Queensland to participate in learning and development events. A popular activity was the creation of a large-scale artwork which proudly sits in our Tweed Heads office. Throughout the year, our people have shown tremendous commitment to our customers, our priorities and keeping older Australians safe and supported. We would like to thank them for their dedication and are extremely proud of what we have been able to do together to support our clients during this time. We would like to thank the Aspire4Life leadership team for their dedication and fortitude. Overwhelmingly we hear positive feedback about the support and assistance that our caring and compassionate individuals provide to our community. We are happy to report that our 90% client satisfaction was met in all regions throughout the year. We are very proud of the way that we continue to demonstrate to our community how to redefine your possible.


Despite the challenging environment, our operational performance and business achievements have remained strong, and our financial results put us in a positive position for the future. We will maintain our focus on client and stakeholder outcomes. Additionally, we are committed to investing in our people and technology to innovate for future opportunities and better practice. We will continue to work with our industry peers, government, and community partners to support Australians to live independent, connected, healthy and purposeful lives.

Although the year ahead will include challenges and uncertainty, the board and management team are very clear about the role that we play in supporting our people and the clients of our services, whilst also maintaining resilient strategic direction and delivering operational performance for our stakeholders. The upcoming year will see the design and implementation of Aspire4Life’s first strategic plan and with it a new mission and long-term objectives, we are confident that this will be the beginning of a successful road ahead.

Supporting strategic outcomes requires the right expertise around the board table. We can genuinely say that the Aspire4Life board sincerely care about the experience of our clients, and the Aspire4Life workforce.

We would like to thank the 5 board members and our support group for their work and commitment to Aspire4Life and for enabling a great and successful year.

Michael Scurrah
Allen Lind
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Organisational Snapshot

Aspire4Life assessors
people supported
client satisfaction with Aspire4Life
of people feel they are listened to by our assessors
support plan reviews
calls with clients
of people feel their beliefs and values are respected by our assessors
of staff say that people in their team are treated fairly regardless of the age, race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity
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Regional Assessment Service

Since the inception of the RAS program in 2015, our staff have shown absolute commitment to Aspire4Life, our values and clients. In 2019/20, six tribe members celebrated five years of service, with another two celebrating a huge ten years of service. Additionally, we welcomed eleven new staff members across assessment and logistics.

In response to COVID-19, our fluid business model was implemented. This ensured business continuity and utmost safety for members and clients. Enhanced safety measures and phone assessments were implemented across our 17 Aged Care Planning Regions in NSW and QLD. A particular focus was placed on clients who were identified as Short Term or At Risk (STAR). These clients received frequent, additional phone contact and support until their risk was managed effectively.

Staff members have continued to strengthen partnerships within our regions, to enhance pathways for clients and to address any perceived or actual barriers to accessing support. Aspire4Life is working in partnership with a local community to address identified cultural barriers to accessing My Aged Care. The assessor attends the monthly Cultural Health Day at the local community centre. Here referrals and assessments are facilitated with clients, and other health professionals to address the specific barriers to healthy ageing in the community.

The new Regional Lead positions have been instrumental in providing additional support for members and clients. Fortnightly individual catch ups have been implemented, with quarterly and annual performance and appraisal sessions to recognise individual commitment, and performance planned to commence next financial year.

The implementation of the new client management system, Neptune, has allowed us to document the client journey, capturing each interaction and reducing the need for the client to continually repeat their story.

Additionally, instructional videos have been created to assist clients with their aged care journey. The videos were developed to reduce feelings of fear and anxiety felt around the assessment and outcomes process. Neptune allows us to share these videos through a link in the clients preferred method of communication (email or SMS).

Neptune has also enabled efficiencies within the logistics team. There is an enhanced interface between My Aged Care and Neptune, efficiencies in rostering and brokerage management, as well as improved communication options for tribe members and clients. The system has enhanced the feedback process, ensuring a timely response to any feedback received which promotes partnerships with internal and external stakeholders.

Young woman in business attire with hair in a bun

Client role a perfect step on Regional Assessor’s road to saving lives

From the New South Wales Riverina to the Tweed and back again, Caitlin Smart’s road towards saving lives has become clearer through assisting others with Aspire4Life.

Read Caitlin's story

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Australian National Aged Care Classification Trial

Aspire4Life was involved in an assessment tool trial, the tool was developed by the University of Wollongong and tendered for pilot by the Department of Health. The Australian National Aged Care Classification (AN ACC) Trial used tools that were digitally available on Department of Health iPads. The iPads were able to capture core care data that drives the cost of care.

Aspire4Life staff members that met eligibility requirements were trained to use the assessment tool over a two-day period. Staff members were required to meet several prerequisites to complete the training. This included holding a current registration with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), as a Registered Nurse, Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist. Staff members were also required to have five years' experience in the aged care industry, pass a police criminal history check, and have proof of current influenza vaccinations.

Initial training was held on 3rd and 4th of December 2019 in Tweed Heads. Seven Registered Nurses, one Occupational Therapist and one Physiotherapist completed the course. Assessments commenced in Gerringong in the Illawarra region, on the 12th of December. The second and final round of training attended by Aspire4Life assessors was conducted in Melbourne on the 21st and 22nd of January 2020. This resulted in an additional two Registered Nurses and three Occupational Therapists completing the training.

From the 12th of December 2019 to the 13th March 2020, a total of 1,089 assessments were conducted on behalf of Aspire4life. A total of 16 facilities across six regions welcomed Aspire4Life assessors. This included South Coast (Gold Coast), Brisbane, Darling Downs, Illawarra, Mid North Coast and Northern NSW.

Due to COVID-19 the AN ACC trail was put on hold. A further nine facilities and a potential of 926 assessments were affected. All assessors that were involved in the trial were proud to be a part of this process.

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DVA Assessment

The Aspire4Life Veterans Home Care Assessment Agency has positively supported the lives of Veterans across our seven regions in New South Wales. These include: Western Sydney, Northern Sydney, New England, South Eastern Sydney, South Western Sydney, Macquarie, and Central Sydney.

Aspire4 Life assisted the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) to undertake a backlog of assessments from three agencies transitioning out of contract. The team rose to the challenge and completed these assessments within the required timeframes.

Highlights for the 2019/20 year have included face-to-face meetings with service providers in Western Sydney, Northern Sydney, and South West Sydney.  Aspire4Life introduced Skype sessions to build relationships with service providers. The Team Leader and General Manager were invited to Perth to meet with contract managers. Here they demonstrated the Aspire4Life Neptune System and its benefits of improved reporting and client management.  

DVA stated “Aspire4Life is the highest agency and are to be commended for their work”. DVA are soon to release agency performance ratings across their Veterans Home Care Agencies, and we’re excited to see these results.

Remembrance Day and Anzac Day ceremonies were marked in the office. Guests were invited to attend physical and virtual ceremonies due to COVID-19. The ceremony was led by Tony Hornby of Currumbin RSL Veterans Support.

Although we are facing uncertain times due to COVID-19, we are confident we can implement quality and innovation. This includes collaboration work with Veterans Support in the community, implementing an additional quality framework through our Neptune System, and working closely with the Department to increase our regional portfolio.

Harry Allie East Sale VicP1_20140324_0002

Aspire4Life’s Reconciliation Action Plan journey glows brightly for proud Aboriginal veteran

For a proud Aboriginal veteran, continuing making strides forward is a key to reconciliation and acceptance.

Read Harry's story

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Reablement Trial

The Reablement Trial ran from January 2019 to 30 June 2020. During this time Aspire4Life participated in the Mid North Coast, New England, Illawarra and Southern Highlands regions.

Two assigned reablement mentors trained, mentored, and validated 17 Assessors under the active model. The active model involved clients participating actively in their assessment and demonstrating several daily tasks to the assessor. Performing active assessments gives greater opportunities for reablement and focuses on active ageing.

A higher percentage of reablement was achieved in these regions (up to 55% in one region), with measurably better outcomes for clients.  This also resulted in a lower number of service referrals, and higher frequency of short term or time limited service referrals.

Using the active model with a reablement focus has improved the questioning, writing, observational and negotiation skills of our assessors. As an outcome of this process, we’re able to focus on client capability building.

We increased our communication with service providers in these regions. As an outcome, we were able to provide education, support, and work to achieve client and reablement goals. We have developed some very strong relationships and became the first point of contact (subject matter experts) with some providers and other agencies such as the Aged Care Assessment Team.

Feedback received from the Australian Healthcare Associates (AHA), states that the trial model effectively increases the rate clients undergo reablement following a RAS assessment. On average this begins at 23% before the trial and increases to 39% during the trial; Aspire4Life clients average 46%.

Trial clients were more likely to receive allied health, home maintenance and assistive technology recommendations. Early indications show that the trial model is effective in improving reablement client wellbeing.

Mop against the wall

Happy mop lady gets a clean run at independence

She’s the self-proclaimed “happy mop lady” and now one Aspire4Life client is getting a clean run at social reconnection.

Read Heather's story

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In Great Company
Community Visitor Scheme

Photo: Woman with a smile having a conversation with elderly man

At Aspire4Life and In Great Company, we’re blessed with an army of kind, talented and giving volunteers who help make our clients lives happy, bright and bold. From bus drivers to yogis, bakers to expert chatters, our 220 volunteers play an important part in the lives of our clients out in the community.

Our volunteers come with a diverse range of skills, interests, abilities, ages, language groups, backgrounds and experiences. We are proud of the fact that our volunteers feel supported and encouraged to share their own time with our seniors.

It’s a rigorous process to become one of our volunteers, because we want the very best for our clients. Volunteers go through an interview process, reference checking and an orientation process – just like every Aspire4Life employee.

Throughout 2019/20 our wonderful volunteers contributed a total of 18,402 hours to their community – we thank each and every one for such an amazing effort!

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