Home' Community Care Review : CCR Jan Feb 2016 Contents M
ore than two decades may have
passed since Alison Chandler
made the leap from working in
the hospital system, but the new head of
Just Better Care still vividly remembers
walking into a client’s home on her first
shift as a community nurse.
“I felt very privileged to see the person
in their own environment,” says Chandler.
“They weren’t in their pyjamas, as they
would be in hospital; I could see their
family photos, how they lived, and I could
get to know them on a whole different level.
“I’ve been in community health ever
since,” she says.
In the intervening years Chandler made
the transition from RN to community care
executive and leader, working for both for-
profit and NFP providers in various roles.
In late December 2015 she was appointed
director of operations at Just Better Care,
where she had been general manager, to
take over from outgoing COO Trish Noakes,
who founded the franchise in 2005.
During the past decade Just Better Care
has grown a network of 33 independently-
owned and operated franchise offices across
Australia, employing more than 1,200
people. It was acquired by global group
Caring Brands International in 2014.
Discussing her career path from RN to
executive, Chandler says she was always
interested in how the organisations she was
working for were being run.
“I was also quite entrepreneurial as a
nurse,” she says. “I was working in a model
where I was subcontracted and I wanted
to grow the number of people that I could
care for, so I proactively started to initiate
business development activity ... visiting
community centres and GPs, and the number
of people I was caring for was growing.”
Her employer at the time noticed and
soon asked Chandler to undertake further
business development activity. This
experience, coupled with some tertiary
study in management, carried her further up
the executive ranks.
“I was very fortunate because my passion
for the industry really led me down the
path of being a leader; I like to be able
to influence change if I can see areas for
quality improvement. I’m always quite vocal
about expressing it,” she says.
For several years Chandler had watched
Noakes develop Just Better Care, with an
appreciation for the successful growth of
She didn’t hesitate when offered a position
with the company, excited about the franchise
model which she believed was ideally suited
to the changing community care landscape.
Under the model, Just Better Care
provides clinical governance, technological
and administrative support, leaving the
franchisees to focus on delivering care in
their communities, says Chandler.
Currently the organisation has 32 franchise
territories in Queensland, Victoria, Western
Australia, NSW and the ACT, while Chandler
confirms it is seeking to expand into South
Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.
“We’re very excited about our growth
plans and expanding our network across
Australia,” she says.
Chandler says she is delighted to see the
bold reforms proposed by the Productivity
Commission in 2011 now materialise across
community aged care.
However, she is attune to the resulting
challenges facing community care
providers, and nominates workforce
development as being chief among them.
The reforms represent a very big shift
in thinking, in service delivery, and in how
all staff – from executives to care workers –
connect with consumers, she says.
“It’s a different style of communication,”
Agent of change
The increasing acuity in home care provides an exciting
work environment for RNs, community care executive and
former nurse ALISON CHANDLER tells DARRAGH O’KEEFFE.
“I like to be able to
influence change if I can
see areas for quality
always quite vocal about
she says, adding that the new era of choice
requires skill, listening, negotiation,
understanding and acceptance. It’s also
asking staff to step out of their comfort zone
to allow consumers to drive the services.
Chandler believes another impact of the
community care reforms – the increasing
acuity of clients living in their homes – will
lead to a more challenging but exciting
work environment, especially for RNs.
“It’s a different world now ... We have
technology in the home, hospital in the home;
people who are critically ill being very well
cared for at home. This has changed how RNs
are working. It’s more exciting, very technical.
From that perspective, community nursing is
a very attractive option for a lot of RNs.”
Chandler was speaking to Community Care
Review as Just Better Care was preparing to
release its 2016-19 strategic plan, which
she says has a clear focus on the consumer,
the workforce, and on improved system
efficiencies including greater use of ICT.
The organisation is investing heavily in
the workforce, says Chandler, who mentions
training in key areas such as client choice,
duty of care and professional boundaries.
“We’re very excited about the next few
years ahead,” she says. n
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Community care from all angles
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