Sunnyside House and Abbeyfield Mortlake now have twice the experience, twice the skills and twice the muscle to safeguard not-for-profit residential aged care in the region.
That was the collective message from Sunnyside House chair Jill Anderson, Abbeyfield Mortlake chair Mick Murphy and their joint chief executive officer Deb Rantall this week.
The two community-owned aged care providers have signed a memorandum of understanding to work together administratively, while retaining their total independence.
Mrs Anderson said the appointment of Mrs Rantall as Sunnyside House’s new CEO – shared 50/50 with Abbeyfield Mortlake – was the first milestone for the joint venture.
“Deb is highly qualified and her experience will bring stability to our organisation and our collective voice with Abbeyfield Mortlake will be much stronger. I’ve had feedback already that this strategic alliance is the smartest thing we’ve done in a long time,” she said.
“Aged care can be a volatile industry and we never really know what the government of the day has planned and what the future looks like. We need to be smarter about everything we do and the way forward for us is strength in numbers.
“The care at Sunnyside House is second to none, our staff and residents are amazing, the community is incredibly supportive and now we’re getting our governance right.”
Mr Murphy said the alliance was mutually beneficial and there was a suite of skills between the two boards that would take both organisations forward.
“I know this partnership strengthens our organisations politically and I know it was a smart decision to maintain aged care in both communities for the long-term,” he said.
“We’ve faced huge challenges at Mortlake and 18 months ago we were in financial trauma, but through that experience we’ve learned to work more closely with key people and to be proactive about the future.
“The fact is small, private, not for profit aged care facilities are in strife nationally. Working collaboratively means we can move from crisis management to being proactive.”
Mrs Rantall said she had been made to feel very welcome at Sunnyside House and was excited about the future of both facilities.
“I’m focused on making sure both businesses are strong, that they are employers of choice and facilities of choice for residents,” she said.
“It’s my role to maintain the individuality of both facilities, but at the same time use our collective voice to leverage opportunities. Where required, we can now stand shoulder to shoulder as the voice of 80 beds, rather two voices of 40 beds and that’s important.”
Mrs Rantall said one of the next milestones would be the appointment of a director of care to provide support and training across both organisations.
She said a joint venture steering committee would be set up shortly, consisting of the chairman, deputy chairman and treasurer from both boards. It would be chaired by an independent member of the community, she said.