Lynden Aged Care
Business View Oceania interviews Carolyn Panassie, CEO of Lynden Aged Care, for our focus on Residential Aged Care and Assisted Living in Australia
Welcome to Lynden Aged Care, where residents enjoy the best life has to offer, with all the comforts of home. The property is located off a quiet suburban street in Camberwell, surrounded by parks and walking tracks and every room boasts a scenic outlook. Lynden’s many comfortable indoor and outdoor areas are ideal for entertaining or simply relaxing. The facility has undergone substantial refurbishment and redevelopment to provide residents with naturally lit, open environments including an in-house café surrounded by a generous communal meeting place overlooking lush gardens and water features.
The original facility opened in 1981 as a small 30 bed hostel called Gaffney House, following a major community fundraising effort driven by Gerry Gaffney who was Mayor of the City of Camberwell at that time. The hostel was run by the city council and designed for local senior citizens, so they didn’t have to leave the Camberwell area. It has since evolved into Lynden Aged Care – a standalone, not for profit, community-owned organisation providing residential aged care services to 102 residents including 20 residents living in extra service places, as well as accommodations in six independent living units at 51 Lynden Street. Residents at Fifty One live independently in boutique two-bedroom units with the peace of mind of being adjacent to Lynden Aged Care and the care and special touches for which Lynden is renowned.
A vibrant lifestyle program keeps residents active and entertained, ensuring that their physical, mental and spiritual needs are met. At Lynden, everyone is encouraged to remain as independent as possible knowing that assistance is available when required. Staffing levels are higher than the industry standard and at least one registered nurse is on site at all times. Music therapy, physiotherapy, podiatry, hairdressing and other services are part of the facility’s offering, and the importance of a healthy diet is a priority. In that regard, the Board has invested heavily in all aspects of the catering service.
Carolyn Panassie, CEO of Lynden Aged Care, reports, “In 1991, the facility expanded with the addition of more than 30 extra beds. At that time, the local council decided to give up the operation of Gaffney House. They formed Lynden Aged Care Association, Inc. and donated the land to the Association. That organisation has been running it ever since through a volunteer board made up of eight members of the community. They had 78 beds back then in two separate buildings – the original Gaffney House hostel and the nursing home section. Realising an expansion was needed to keep up with the times and the growing demand in the area, they hired Blair Architects and embarked on a significant refurbishment and expansion project which took about eight years to complete, in four stages, and increased the number of beds to 102. In addition to the original Gaffney House building and the nursing home there are two other sections. It’s an amazing building with lots of natural light and courtyards that show off the beautiful established gardens.”
Lynden Aged Care is owned by community members, run by the Board of Directors, with Panasssie as CEO, and Natasha Savell as Clinical Services Manager. The facility offers high care, low care, respite care, dementia-specific care and palliative care. There are also six, two-bedroom retirement living apartments onsite in a separate building. Residents in those units are quite independent but they can access nursing services or care services from Lynden, or order a meal from the kitchen. The transition to the residential part of the organisation is seamless when the need arises. The resident has a non-owner lease on the unit after contributing a lump sum payment, and once they vacate they sell that lease on to the new owner.
The facility is blessed with close to 50 adult volunteers who come into the home and do everything from driving the bus for outings to participating in group activities. Panassie notes, “ One volunteer runs a scrabble group, another runs a knitting group. Others come in and help residents with hydration and nutrition, take them for walks, read to them, spending one on one time. And then we have students form the local secondary schools that come in and assist with activities. We also have primary classes that give concerts and put on plays. All our residents love children, animals and music.”
Lynden Aged Care employees 130 people, including the care staff working full-time, part-time or casual shifts, catering and kitchen staff, leisure activities, maintenance and administration. “Residents transition right through to end of life here,” says Savell, “so we do regular mandatory training and other education sessions, as well. With palliative care, they’ve been given a link so they can do online training. In Australia, especially our Registered Nurses and Enrolled Nurses are required to do at least 20 continual professional development (CPD) hours in their own education. We’re lucky to have one board member who is a doctor and he’s done some in-service education training sessions, along with his wife who is a professor in infectious diseases. And we’re looking at more training to come in this year from businesses like Dementia Australia. We’re also asking the staff what they’d like more education in. Many of our staff members have been here 10 years or more. We have an extremely low turnover.”
In the Camberwell area there are over 20 aged care providers in a five to six km radius, so there is a lot of competition. Since the government has boosted funding to the homecare sector to encourage people to stay in their homes longer, Panassie is seeing a change in the acuity level of residents when they come to Lynden. “People are staying home longer and getting services there, whether that be cleaning, assistance with hygiene and so on. So we’ve seen a great shift and the residents coming into care are generally more frail. And often the residents are not as mobile, so we need more lifting equipment; more wheelchairs; daybeds.” Savell adds, “That allows the residents to be out in the home and not left in their room on the bed, so they’re able to participate in activities and be moved around the facility. Which is lovely.”
With people living longer, all aged care facilities are requiring more input from Allied Health. At Lynden, they have physiotherapists coming in six days a week, podiatry come in every two weeks and see most of the residents on a regular basis. Dieticians are onsite at least once a month and they work closely with the nursing and kitchen staff. There are also optometrists and a dentist available, and Hearing Australia come in and take care of hearing aids and testing. All this makes it easier for everyone because they don’t have to go outside the facility to get those services.
Panassie admits, “The aged care sector is transitioning from a welfare-style system to a market-based system with a focus on the consumer (the language is changing too, but we still like to use the word resident). So our compliance standards really centre on the consumer experience and dignity of risk and consumer choice. That is a challenge, but a positive one, in that aged care had become a bit risk averse and we were afraid to let residents do things. But today if they choose to do a certain activity, we have to enable that for them. As long as they’re making an informed decision and are understanding of the risk, they’re now allowed to take that risk. Which is wonderful for them. It’s all about enhancing their quality of life.”
Much credit for the ongoing success of the facility goes to the Lynden Aged Care Association Board of Directors. “They are an amazing group of people,” says Panassie, and very responsive and supportive of the organisation. They are all volunteers with a wide range of skills: the Chairman is a registered nurse, two have a financial background, one is a lawyer, one is a retired general practitioner, one is a professor of gerontology, and two are in the construction industry. So it’s great to have their wealth of knowledge and experience and dedication. During the expansion they formed a building committee and met every week. They gave up their time and they’re always there if we need them for anything. We really have a partnership with all our stakeholders, and the residents and their relatives are very generous with donations. So we’re lucky in that respect”
Speaking to what makes Lynden such a wonderful place, Savell shares, “There’s a feel you get as soon as you walk in. It’s quite distinguishable from other places and very special. And there’s quite often a dog or two around – we’re very open to animals coming to visit. The residents love that. Panassie, chimes in with her view, “We have a beautiful building to look at, but there is such a lovely energy in this place and that comes from the people. The residents, the staff, the families, the external providers that visit. We have an amazing Lifestyle team that organises all the events and activities for the residents. They’re such a dynamic group and they’re very involved. It really is a collaboration of relationships and people, they are the heart and soul of Lynden.”
AT A GLANCE
Lynden Aged Care
What: Community owned not for profit residential aged care facility
Where: Camberwell, Victoria; 9 km east of Melbourne CBD
Outcomex – www.outcomex.com.au
Since our foundation in 2006, Outcomex has been working hand in hand with Australian Aged Care providers to optimise the quality of care offered to their residents. We recognise the unique challenges within this industry; elevated compliance and governance, contracted budgets, increased competition and now, the coronavirus pandemic. While our elderly have had their health, safety and mental wellbeing put in jeopardy, Aged Care providers are increasingly reliant on new, innovative technologies to alleviate the impact of the forced isolation and deliver high value care to those within their facilities. In conjunction with Cisco technologies, Outcomex is helping the industry become technology-ready to keep residents safe and connected with health professionals and loved ones.
As the preferred technology partner of Lynden Aged Care since 2017, we have enjoyed seeing their commitment to innovation underpinned by their desire to continuously improve the quality of care offered to their residents. Through our work together, we have built a robust network complemented by voice, security, and wireless architectures using Cisco technologies. Residents and staff at Lynden Aged Care benefit from the use of video conferencing tools, connected healthcare products, assistive technologies, and elevated compliance, keeping everyone safe and connected.