Stanthorpe aged care welcomes local manager – and Austrian chef

Born and bred Stanthorpe local Vickie Batterham is the new Service Manager of Churches of Christ in Queensland’s residential aged care service in the heart of the Southern Downs, and she couldn’t be more thrilled to be back home and in the role.

“Everyone has been very supportive about my appointment. You know, many of our residents are the parents and grandparents of my friends and neighbours, which makes this very special for me.”

“We look forward to welcoming new residents at this beautiful and affordable 103 bed facility, with accommodation to suit individual preferences. This is not one big house, there are seven cottages, each with its own décor, 10-21 spacious private bedrooms with ensuite and shared living and outdoor spaces. That makes it feel more like home,” Vickie said.

The Stanthorpe Aged Care Service is affordable for everyone for several reasons. Being not-for-profit, Churches of Christ aims to assist people to age in the communities in which they have lived and exists to provide uplift to the community.

Importantly, many residents can access government assistance with costs following an income and assets evaluation. There is also flexibility in how residents can choose to pay for their accommodation, which is explained later in this article.

A unique service feature is that care teams are located in each Stanthorpe cottage,rather than working across three or four cottages. This allows carers to spend more quality time with residents, build relationships and better understand their needs and health care. There is 24 hour nursing care and specialist services including dementia, palliative, bariatric and respite care.

Vickie praises her team: “What makes me very happy is that we have some really brilliant staff here at Stanthorpe Campus – experienced and passionate about delivering 24 hour personalised care for our residents.”

Austrian hotel chef joins staff

Among the staff – in a first for Churches of Christ in Queensland – is professional chef and kitchen manager Dietmar Reiterer, an Austrian-trained former international hotel chef – the renowned Marriott chain among others. He also ran his own businesses in catering and turning around food businesses over more than 20 years.

He has managed teams and run the catering at places as diverse as the Gold Coast’s Carrara Stadium and for oil workers in the South Australian desert.

Dietmar started at Stanthorpe two months ago and is seeking feedback from residents. He is now not only producing restaurant-quality food, but is bringing his training to bear in implementing better systems for the smoother running of the kitchen and meal delivery.

His professional approach is being adopted across the cottage model in other Churches of Christ services – the organisation looks after residents in more than 1900 residential aged care beds around the country.

Dietmar understands specific nutritional requirements for older people and is able to adapt to meet the preferences of meals - meals which can be so important for residents. His experience is much appreciated both by residents and his co-workers.

Bringing residents together as a community

Vickie Batterham notes that Stanthorpe is a strong community, and the residential aged care service is a community within the broader one. Each cottage is also its own smaller community, giving residents access to many benefits.

Vicki said that her early priorities include improving communication and making sure things run smoothly to bring the residents together as a community.

“Although I’m only in my first month in the job there are some good signs – we are getting more interest in working here than ever before.”

“I look forward to working closely with residents and families to deliver the best care possible. I’m a practical person and with my top team, we’re committed to making things work even better in future.”

The new Service Manager completed her degree through Charles Darwin University and has a specialisation in rural and remote nursing. She has been a Director of Nursing/Facility Manager at small rural hospitals that have an aged care component.

She recently returned from the South West of Queensland to act as Director of Stanthorpe Hospital for six months. During this time she became aware of the opportunity to lead the aged care service.

Positive well-being to the fore

Many of the programs and therapies available at Stanthorpe residential aged care focus on bringing joy and uplift to an individual’s life. This means living life more abundantly and enjoying positive wellbeing, such as through music, exercise and art therapy. The landscaped gardens feature a bocce court, barbecue area and café.

It goes deeper than mere fun however; the organisation uses a Positive Well-being model tailored for individual residents. The theory is about improving each resident’s life, by addressing their needs across five areas.

Vickie explains:

“We all need to feel comfortable and safe, feel we are valued, have something meaningful to do, feel like we belong and be sociable with family and friends. In essence, the approach is not about managing decline but living life to the full.”

“Individual preferences are taken into account. For example, some residents continue doing meaningful tasks they would have done at home, such as setting and clearing the tables at meals. Others relish the opportunity to join in new activities. There is still plenty of opportunity for quiet times, reading or doing a crossword, or chatting with family.”

Vickie notes that her residents come from all walks of life:

“We are a diverse and inclusive group. For example if a resident wishes to follow their faith that is easy here, we have a chaplain and access to church services. But there is no compulsion – we also welcome those who do not follow any particular religion or who don’t wish to attend services.”

She explained some of the activities residents are currently anticipating:

“We have some bus trips coming up – there are mystery trips and destination trips. Many of our residents have a farming background so there’s a farmer coming soon to talk about his work. We’re also hoping to have an art class on Saturdays and as part of giving back to our community, there’ll be a barbecue to help raise funds for farmers in the drought.”

Managing costs

Vickie says that at first people may think aged care costs are high because Stanthorpe and region are not generally wealthy areas and many houses are wellpriced.

“But when you consider what is included here – not just lovely accommodation but 24/7 availability of nursing care, dedicated personal support, beautiful gardens, chef-prepared meals, power, laundry, fun activities, therapies, and more – and consider that most people can get some government subsidy with their costs, it all becomes accessible.”

Every resident has a private bedroom with ensuite (some with balconies or patios); all bedrooms have fans, air conditioning, an electric bed, bedside furniture, TV, and access to shared living and dining areas and landscaped grounds.

Costs fall into accommodation and basic daily fees.

The daily fees contribute towards such items as meals, power and laundry and are currently set by the government at $50.66 per day (85% of the single person rate of the Age Pension) – and this may be the only cost for some residents. Some people will also pay a means tested care fee, depending on income and assets.

There are three options for paying the refundable accommodation deposit (RAD): either as a government-guaranteed lump sum on entry; or as a “pay as you go” daily accommodation payment (also known as DAP); or a combination of both the above.

As an example, with a cottage balcony room, you can make the refundable accommodation payment for this upfront for $420,000. Or if you prefer, pay no upfront costs, but pay 100% daily accommodation payment which is $26, 820 annually, or weekly is approximately $515 – and, like rent, is not refundable, but affordable for many.

Vickie recommends a confidential individual consultation with Churches of Christ by calling 1800 900 001 to help with considering different situations. People are also welcome to make a time to look at the Southern Downs aged care facilities which can also be viewed on YouTube.

Eligibility to enter aged care

To be eligible to enter an aged care facility you need to be at pensionable age or receive a Disability Support Pension, and be assessed by the Aged Care Assessment Team (also called ACAT). They will meet you and talk with you on your situation and determine if you are eligible to receive government-subsidised aged care services. You can access the ACAT via the myagedcare website.

Churches of Christ in Queensland is fully accredited by the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency. It has been active in the community for well over 100 years in the areas of children, youth and family services; community housing; retirement living; home and community care; and residential aged care services.

Posted November 19, 2018 in News