Mar 10, 2021

“For so long we have heard people say aged care has to change”, meet the doctor on the way to changing this

Gardening with a kids. Senior woman and her grandchild working in the garden with a plants. Hobbies and leisure, lifestyle, family life

With the final report of the Royal Commission into Australia’s aged care sector due to be handed down in the coming weeks, one new aged care provider has already commenced what many in the sector believe will be key findings of the latest enquiry. 

Community Home Australia is an Australian Charities and Not for profit Commission registered charity established to offer people living with dementia, including those under 65 with early-onset dementia an alternative to entering mainstream large scale aged care facilities. 

Their first home in Canberra is already receiving enquiries from prospective guests as news of the alternative care option gets out.  

The concept, which has been years in the planning brings together traditional safety and clinical advantages of residential aged care, combines this with the principles of enablement, independence, support and person-centeredness enshrined in the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and delivers it all in a specially modified residential house in the middle of a residential community. 

Kambera House, located on a 1500 square metre residential block surrounded by fruit trees, wheelchair-accessible paths, vegetable gardens, chickens and outdoor leisure spaces.  

Community Home Australia’s Managing Director, Dr Rodney Jilek tells HelloCare that the concept is quite simple and there is no magical philosophy – the organisation’s first house “Kambera House” will operate under the philosophy of life.

Our aim is not to recreate a fake world for our guests to live in, but instead, provide them with individualised supports to continue interacting with their local community as much as possible. 

Kambera House is located in the leafy southern Canberra suburb of Gordon, close to local shops and health services and less than five minutes’ drive from the major centre of Tuggeranong.

With a maximum of 6 guests, their own house wheelchair-accessible bus, and partnerships with local community groups and organisations such as the National Portrait Gallery, engagement with the outside world is assured.

Our motto is “Aged Care Your Way” which encompasses our commitment to individuality and choice. 

The key to empowerment is a combination of the latest technologies and a hand-selected team of aged care and dementia care specialists lead by Nicole Smith, a Registered Nurse with extensive experience in aged care and community engagement.

As the founder of the Canberra Community Café, Nicole pioneered a café concept for people living with dementia and their carers to socialize and take time out and we are proud to continue this valuable community service at Kambera House in our activity centre. 

Exceeding industry standards has been a major focus with Community Home Australia entering into a number of partnerships with exciting Australian and oversees companies to bring the latest advances in healthcare to our home.  

  • We are proud to partner with Samsung Australia and Breezie who are providing our communication, nurse call and entertainment solutions to ensure guests remain connected to their loved ones, enabled through the provision of information and have easy access to staff when support is requiredEach guest will have access to their own Samsung tablet so communication is always possible. Transparency and engagement with extended family and friends are important features of our model of care at Community Home Australia. 
  • We are excited to partner with Livius, the Australian distributor of the latest radio wave falls prevention and monitoring technology from Israel. The system will be fully implemented for the first time in Australian aged care and provides 4D privacy assured monitoring of guests so staff can proactively manage falls risk. 
  • We are continuing our longstanding partnership with Webstercare to provide our guests with the safest electronic medication management system available in AustraliaMedsig. Despite only having 6 guests at Kambera House, Webstercare were able to tailor a solution for us and we have a local pharmacy on board to supply medicines and safe use audits. 
  • We are also continuing our partnership with Altura Learning as our education and training system provider. Altura Learning offers the premier aged care education portal with over 100 topics covered. 
  • All this technology requires quality internet access and through our partnership with IntraTec and Exetel we have secured a huge 1000/1000 dedicated internet link – 10 times faster than the NBN’s maximum residential speed. This will allow our guests to remain connected with the world around them, stream movies and access the world wide web at their leisure. 
  • We are pleased to enter into a new partnership with Aidacare as our provider of beds and medical equipment including ceiling-mounted lifting devices and fully electric beds. Our challenge was to find equipment that did not negatively impact our residential setting and Aidacare rose to the challenge. 

With the sector facing ongoing challenges with the workforce, Community Home Australia has taken a novel approach to staff attraction, retention and satisfaction.

Dr Jilek sums up their approach as “flexibility with respect”. We offer staff a flexible working environment that fits with the challenges of their life.

We all have families, stressors and commitments so let’s work together to get the best outcomes for everyone … having issues with childcare, bring your children with you; need to work around commitments, we can accommodate that. 

Dr Jilek said “one of my biggest bugbears about staff recognition programs is they only ever identify some staff and often reward them sporadically (usually once a year at Christmas time).

We made the decision very early on that we wanted the best staff and were willing to offer more to get and keep them.

We have started our minimum wages 20% above award and added 12% superannuation as a basic entitlement.

We are empowering our staff to be flexible and innovative with our guests, with the focus on the individual paramount.

If we expect this from our staff we have to demonstrate it to our workforce”.  

As an Australian not-for-profit charitable organisation, Community Home Australia is currently running their first fundraising campaign to get Kambera House open

Dr Jilek said “For so long we have heard people say aged care has to change.

The Directors and senior managers of the organisation have all donated their personal savings to make this initiative possible and we wanted to offer an opportunity for anyone with an interest in improving aged care, and dementia care in particular to contribute to this project.

As a registered charity, all donations over $2 are tax-deductible and we appreciate any donations, big or small to help us give people living with dementia a viable option to large scale institutional nursing homes.

Donations can be made, here, or by contacting Community Home Australia directly via email.  

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