Innovative, daring and “providing leadership on a global scale” is how the international and UN sanctioned organisation “Talent Beyond Boundaries (TBB)” described Princes Court Mildura aged care facility.
The organisation experiencing difficulties in attracting qualified allied health professionals to the rural community, connected with TBB that resulted in the recruitment of two highly skilled physiotherapist refugees from Lebanon.
“Your leadership is hugely appreciated and valued” were further comments from TBB as Princes Court joined a team of business representatives that met with the Minister for Immigration in November 2019, with the outcome of a new skilled refugee visa program being trialed.
Chief Executive Officer Jenny Garonne said apart from assisting the organisation to be more sustainable, having on-site physiotherapists will enhance the Princes Court Mildura aged care residents’ quality of life. At the same time, for the two physiotherapists the opportunity to travel to Australia to rebuild their lives after years of living displaced is priceless.
This was one of the factors highlighted in the organisation receiving the prestigious national Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA) 2020 Excellence in Age Services Organisation award for compassion and innovation in the care and support of older people.
Princes Court is a community-owned not-for-profit Mildura aged card provider caring for 100 residents and supporting 76 retirees in independent lifestyle units in their retirement village in Mildura. After being named the Victorian winner earlier in the year, Princes Court was among 24 finalists at the National awards.
Chief Executive Officer Jenny Garonne said she was surprised and delighted by the success.
“For a regional aged care service provider this is an incredible honour, and I know everyone who is part of the Princes Court story is just so proud,” Ms Garonne said.
“First and foremost, our residents and families, because they are the ones who are the reason for everything that we do, but also for our staff and our visionary Board,” she said.
“It has been a very difficult year and this is such a rapidly-changing sector that to receive a national award now is an extra special acknowledgement of the dedication of our staff and Board in providing excellent care every day.”
Ms Garonne said “Apart from the organisation’s success in overcoming difficulties in attracting allied health professionals, its dedication to improving the lives of residents through its focus on refurbishing, implementing new technology and infrastructure development were other factors”.
The award also recognised Princes Court aged care Mildura for its emphasis on community engagement and exploring new alliances with local organisations, schools and community groups.
This included a collaboration with three local other aged care providers in a ten month, specialised leadership training program with Sunraysia Institute of TAFE. After recognising a gap in training and with funding sourced through Victorian Department of Education, 30 staff including 10 from Princes Court, completed the course and with the benefit of collective knowledge, is allowing for further collective ideas to form. The collaboration won the State LASA Collaborative award and are one of three finalists for the collaboration team award in the National Training Awards.
Among other innovative partnerships was the Mallee Living Histories project, which brokered relationships between community members and residents and resulted in the publication of a book of the life stories of 15 residents. A second volume with the stories of 14 more aged care residents has been completed despite COVID 19 challenges and was launched on 12 November 2020.
Another new partnership with the Mildura English Language Centre involved 11 to 14-year-old refugee children visiting Princes Court to practice their English.
“Our board deserves full credit for us being recognised as an industry leader in this way. We are extremely fortunate to have a group that has backed our ideas and our determination to keep trying new things,” Ms Garonne said.
“Equally, we have a staff and leadership team who are genuinely connected to and caring of our residents. They are prepared to go above and beyond, and it shows. This award would certainly not have been possible without that genuine love and care that is demonstrated at all levels in our teams every day.”
“The day to day caring, commitment and being an effective, well-run organisation was evidenced earlier this year when Princes Court successfully achieved 42 out of 42 requirements in a rare 100% in reaccreditation by the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission”.
Ms Garonne said the award also highlighted the deep connection Princes Court retirement village in Mildura has to the Sunraysia community.
“The innovation opportunities that we receive almost always come from a community level. Because of the connections within our region, people very keen to give back, so that comes through in projects such as the Mallee Living Histories project and the Mildura English Language Centre program,” she said.
“We are very lucky to have the opportunity to try new things, and this award is a great recognition of the many people who contribute to making these exciting ideas work.”