Today is a very special day for Ozcare. Today we are celebrating 20 years of delivering aged care, disability care, nursing, health, and community support services to the Queensland community.
Way back in 1996 we were known as St Vincent’s Community Services, established as a not-for-profit organisation by the Society of St Vincent de Paul to provide much needed help to Queenslanders.
We had a small but diverse list of services including in-home care, residential aged care, nursing services, drug & alcohol recovery services, and emergency accommodation such as homeless hostels and women’s refuges. With 46 services in 25 locations, and 600 staff, we started our journey; to help seniors stay in their own homes as long as possible, to help the disadvantaged get back on their feet, to provide respite services to carers looking after loved ones, and to offer homely aged care facilities to our oldest Australians.
Two decades on, we offer all that and more. Each year we have added new services and increased the number of people we can help by extending the locations we service, building and extending aged care facilities, and employing more staff.
We continue to offer a hugely diverse range of services:
- Aged care – at home, in a day respite centre, retirement village, or an aged care facility
- Disability care – at home or in a day respite centre
- Dementia services - specialist advice as well as care services at home, at a day respite centre, or in a secure wing at our aged care facilities
- Nursing and allied health – including physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and social workers who come to your home
- Women’s refuges and domestic violence services
- Homeless hostels
- Housing and support services for those at risk of homelessness
- Drug & alcohol recovery programs
- Mental health services
- The Bush Connection, a support for farming families in Toowoomba
- Goodna Integrated Family Support, for school children in Goodna
We are also continuing our growth with three new aged care facilities in planning or building stages (in Hervey Bay, Toowoomba, and Mackay), expansion of our disability services in line with the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and more services being added to our list every year.
All up, we now proudly support more than 15,000 Queenslanders everyday with 320 services and a workforce of 3,000 staff.
It is these staff who have always have been the backbone of our business. These carers, support workers, nurses, allied health professionals, and hospitality staff go the extra mile to help their clients, all supported by our wonderful administrators, professionals and management.
As part of our 20th anniversary celebrations, we went out to our staff and clients to find those that have been with us the longest. The responses we received warmed our hearts, we hope you enjoy them too.
Do you have a message you want to send to Ozcare, or a particular carer that you have had? Add your comments below and we’ll make sure they receive them.
At inception Ozcare had a strong presence on the Gold Coast, with two aged care facilities, two day respite centres, home care and nursing, and crisis accommodation for families.
That presence has grown even stronger today, with a third aged care facility, third day respite centre, expanded services in nursing for continence, allied health, specialist dementia services, mental health services, domestic violence services, and help for the homeless or people at risk of becoming homeless.
Rita English, a domestic at Keith Turnbull Place Aged Care Facility in Labrador, has been with Ozcare since the beginning.
“I started at what is now Keith Turnbull Place in 1987. I still love coming to work and I enjoy helping and interacting with our residents. Working with Ozcare helps keeps me busy and my mind active. I have many friends here too – both staff and residents. Ozcare has treated me very well over the years and were very supportive when I experienced some health issues and needed some time off.
So much has changed in the last 20 years – one of the major changes was the complete refurbishment of the facility around 11 years ago. There have also been many changes in policies and work practices; the way we do things has improved and I feel that with each change our residents get a better service.
The aim of the organisation and the facility has stayed the same over time – we strive to provide our residents the best possible care, comfort and support.”
Resident Beryl Finlay
“I made the decision to move into an aged care facility over 11 years ago even though my family were reluctant for me to be admitted into care. An acquaintance of mine recommended Keith Turnbull Place and I haven’t looked back.
The facility had just been refurbished when I moved in and looked beautiful, and the food, staff and activities have been wonderful since the first day. Rita is a particular gem, she always ensures that all the residents are well looked after – in many ways I see her as a mother figure and also as a friend.
Living at Ozcare has been totally different from what I expected and I have not regretted my decision to move here for a moment.”
From operating a drug & alcohol recovery service and crisis accommodation service for families in 1996, Ozcare Ipswich now offers home care, nursing, allied health, specialist dementia services, and respite care, as well as homeless accommodation, disability services, mental health service, and GIFS, a program for at-risk school children in Goodna.
Co-ordinator of Community Care Lynne Vergunst has been with Ozcare since 2008.
“Every day is full of challenges, some that you can overcome and others that are more difficult, but behind it all are the people.
The team work, the smiles, the camaraderie, the caring, the frustrations, even sometimes the tears, or the corny joke that someone always seems to make when things are at their hardest. It’s the people that make me love my job.
The quality of the client care hasn’t changed from the moment I arrived. We all want to help people and make their quality of life better, and it’s something that I see every day when I talk to clients and carers who want to say thanks.”
Ozcare client Iris Barry
“As a client of Ozcare for a number of years I have seen that the carers and staff love what they do. They are a voice on the other end of the phone when I have troubles that need sorting out. Ozcare is just a wonderful service and I’m so grateful for the care they give me.”
Ozcare Toowoomba initially offered nursing services, domestic violence services, and homeless hostels in Dalby and Toowoomba. Since 1996 services have been expanded to offer home care, nursing, allied health, and respite care, as well as homeless services, disability services, specialist dementia services, mental health services, and The Bush Connection, a service to help farming families doing it tough.
We have also extended our services into Warwick, with home care services and a meals on wheels services available for local residents.
Clinical Nurse Glenda McCarthy has been with Ozcare since the beginning.
“Every day is different and you never know what is going to happen. Wound care is my passion, I find it satisfying to impart my knowledge to educate clients and colleagues about current trends as well as tried and true methods.
The flexibility and challenges of the job is what has kept me here. Just when you are getting bored a new challenge comes along, the latest has been the school immunisation program, where we have travelled many kilometres to schools all over the region.
For many years our nurses just had pagers but I remember when we got our first portable phone it was for our services in Oakey. It was a huge brick that we had to lug around, it was ground breaking at the time but so impractical! Advancements in technology have complemented our client care but the quality of the care is something we’ve always prided ourselves on. We continue to provide innovative and holistic care to a broad spectrum of the community.”
Ozcare client Helen McNaught
“Thank you is never enough to say to all at Ozcare. Living alone in my own home, their kind care and assistance helps me to be out and about, to share life with others.
O'er the years some days in doubt,
There is of't a lot to think about.
Every eve I say a little prayer,
Of blessed thanks to Ozcare."
Since our inception, Ozcare has had a strong presence both north and south of the river, with home nursing and care services widely available, aged care facilities in New Farm and Clontarf, domestic violence services, drug & alcohol residential recovery services, a day respite centre in Clontarf, and a homeless men’s hostel in South Brisbane.
We now also provide specialist dementia services, respite care, allied health, and services for those at risk of homelessness. We have three offices for our home care services located at North Lakes, Chermside, and Shailer Park.
Business Operations Manager Andrina Farlow has been with Ozcare since the beginning.
“There are some things that say the same in aged care no matter the technological advances and one of those is the quality of the care. At its root, nursing is about looking after people. You have to want to help people, and I find that hasn’t changed for me since moving into management roles. In fact, now I have more opportunity to drive change that will help both our staff and clients.
We have a core group who have known each other for 20 odd years, we’ve worked together for a long time and understand a lot about each other and the organisation. We still need new people of course, but I think it’s the wealth of experience of our long serving staff have that makes Ozcare so special.
I’ve made life-long friends here and for me Ozcare has a family feel to it. I’ve been through sicknesses and family tragedies and my managers have always been fantastic. And it’s not just me, I see that with others too.”
Ozcare client Ollie
“Ozcare are just great. They come in and make sure I’ve taken my medication and really I would be lost without them. I used to have someone come in to do my meals too but I’ve just started doing that for myself again. I like knowing that the services are available if I need them but I enjoy my independence too.”
To this day, Ozcare Clontarf continues to provide peninsula residents home nursing and care services, as well as respite and aged care services at the Clontarf Day Respite Centre and Ozanam Villa Clontarf Aged Care Facility. In addition, Ozcare now also offers specialist dementia services, allied health, and assistance with care and housing.
Registered nurse Dianne Williams has been with Ozcare since the beginning.
“I’ve stayed so long because I simply love it! I get great job satisfaction working with our clients, and my colleagues are fantastic. I am still learning new skills after all these years and I get the support I need.
Back when I started we used to all sit in one room with all the mobility aids hanging on the wall, and the only record keeping we did was to put a tick on a green card after you had visited a client. Now we have charts in our client’s homes, as well as electronic charts that are available right on our smartphones.
The comradery and excellent client care is something that has been here right from the start and that really hasn’t changed with technology – it just makes it stronger.”
Resident Mary Ooi has been living at the Ozcare Ozanam Villa Clontarf Aged Care Facility since 1997.
“I am very fond of Ozcare staff, they are gentle, kind, helpful, caring, and most importantly patient!”
Offering home care packages for two decades, Ozcare Sunshine Coast also provides the local community with two residential aged care facilities, a retirement village, home care services, nursing, specialist dementia services, allied health services, mental health services, and a service for seniors who are at risk of homelessness.
Jill Berwick has been a nurse at the Ozcare Noosa Heads Aged Care Facility since it opened in 1997 and said she still enjoys her work immensely.
“I have always liked interacting and caring for our wonderful residents, I get a lot of satisfaction from helping them with their daily activities.
I love to see the happiness of their relatives when they realise their loved one is content. I feel in some small way I’ve created a little bubble of happiness during the day.”
The past 20 years has seen huge expansion for the facility. Originally catering for 50 low and high care residents in 1996, the facility has been expanded multiple times, now offering 24/7 nursing, care and specialist dementia services to 130 residents.
“We’ve grown a lot in size but also in our multicultural influences. We have a number of staff and residents who bring new ideas and perspectives and that creates a really vibrant environment for all of us to work and live in.
One thing that’s stayed the same in the past 19 years is the level of care and dedication of staff. Our number one priorities have always been our residents and their families.”
Resident Jules Hunter
“I had so much help adjusting to my new life at Ozcare. I am still overwhelmed by the most incredible genuine, unconditional empathy, kindness and compassion shown by the staff. I really felt like I belonged right from the start.”
From operating a nursing service and homeless hostel in Bundaberg back in 1996, Ozcare Wide Bay has grown exponentially; now servicing more clients than ever with home care, allied health, and specialist dementia services, as well as mental health services, and services for people at risk of homelessness.
Care Assistant Derek Algar has been with Ozcare since the beginning.
“I enjoy coming to work every day, it’s been a vocation for me. I get a lot of pleasure out of helping people to stay independent and at home.
It’s good to be a part of a caring organisation like Ozcare. We’ve grown so much over the last two decades, we’re currently building an aged care facility in Hervey Bay, and I think our growth has been such a positive thing for our community.
The ideals of Ozcare and the focus behind our services have stayed the same. We have always put the client first and will always change the service to the client’s needs.
Ozcare client Cheryl Constable
“My life would have been a lot harder if I had not had assistance from Ozcare, the service has changed depending on what I need, and the staff have been wonderful. I feel that Ozcare really listens to me.”
Originally operating a nursing service and homeless men’s hostel back in 1996, Ozcare Rockhampton now supports more clients than ever with home care, extended nursing service with a continence unit, allied health, and specialist dementia services, as well as a service for people at risk of homelessness.
Nurses were also made available to residents in the Central Highlands, services that continue to this day with the addition of home care services and respite care.
In the mid-2000s, an office was opened in Gladstone to cater for the needs of the wider region, with the same services as Rockhampton but also including mental health services. These complimented the domestic violence services that had been running in the region under Ozcare since 1996.
Registered Nurse Colleen Cooper has been with Ozcare since 1999.
“I enjoy making a difference in our clients’ lives, I know I’m helping them to stay at home, where they are happiest, for as long as possible. I get a lot of satisfaction from seeing my clients regain their independence, their confidence, and even their self-respect.
The quality of the care and the dedication of all staff has never changed. The reason most of us got into this industry is because we want to help people and that is really the heart and soul of what we do.”
Ozcare client Coral Maher
“Ozcare has been looking after me for the past seven years and the service is extra good. The staff are helpful, pleasant, and cheerful, and they care for me like family. In fact they even get grumpy with me when I won’t go to the doctor, I can be a bit stubborn at times!”
Ozcare Mackay has grown significantly since 1996, when they offered a nursing service and homeless hostel for men. They now also provide home care, allied health, and specialist dementia services, as well as mental health services, and a residential drug & alcohol recovery service.
Care Assistant Bianca Tomarra has been with Ozcare since 2000.
“I realised I wanted to be a carer when I was looking after my mum and enjoyed the role so much. It really opened my eyes to this career and I’ve never looked back.
I love helping people, and I have a lot of fun interacting with my clients and listening to their stories while I care for them. We have such a variety of clients who have had such interesting lives! I do get to meet a lot of extended family, who I still bump into years down the track and stop for a chat.
The things that haven’t changed are definitely the quality of care and the fact that Ozcare has always been very supportive. I feel like my voice is heard, and they were very accommodating when I had my son and needed to be flexible with my hours.”
Ozcare client Nancy O’Hara
“I can’t thank Ozcare enough. They have helped me stay in my home and all the staff are just wonderful. We’ve had a long association with them with my husband having received services and now me. Anything I need help with, I just call and they are so obliging.”
Providing crisis accommodation to homeless men and women since 1996, Ozcare Townsville has grown exponentially; now servicing clients with a residential aged care facility, home care services, specialist dementia services, a day respite centre, mental health services, and a residential drug & alcohol recovery service.
Care Assistant Denise Draper has been with Ozcare for 15 years.
“We have a dedicated team of care staff, nurses, allied health professionals, and support staff, and a lot of us have been here for more than five years. It’s that longevity that allows you to really connect with a client and provide them with the best service possible because you know them, you know their family, and their specific needs.
In the early days we’d arrive at work and be given a piece of paper with the client’s details on it – almost like drawing a shift from a bucket. How times change!
The reason most of us joined Ozcare in the first place is that we love to help people, and there is nothing more satisfying that leaving a client who has been helped with their showering, or had grab rails installed to prevent falls, or even found permanent housing after being homeless, and seeing how much it means to them. It’s such a great thing to be able to do for the people in our community who need it most.”
Ozcare client Betty Fryer
“The work Ozcare do, so efficiently and caringly, to help us stay in our own home is quite remarkable.
I really appreciate the many things they do for me and my husband Ray who is my carer. I often ask the girls if they like their job and every one answers that they love their job. They are such special people bringing loving care and happiness to us all.
There’s talk of the government giving clients the chance to choose our home care providers. In our case, there is no wish to change anything at all. Ozcare was the only provider that would come to Hervey Range to help us – how fortunate for us that they did.”
Operating a homeless men’s hostel and providing home care services, which both continue today, Ozcare Cairns now also provides nursing, allied health, and specialist dementia services, as well as services for people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness and a residential drug & alcohol recovery service.
We have also extended services for Far North Queensland residents with aged care facilities in Port Douglas and Malanda, and home care services available in Malanda as well.
Community Care Co-ordinator Fiona Wakeham has been with Ozcare for 19 years.
“I love my position as co-ordinator and I’m privileged to lead a very loyal and devoted team who all enjoy helping seniors who wish to remain residing in their own homes for as long as possible. It is amazing to see the difference that we are able to make in people’s lives, and that by offering the support services we do, we’re able to keep our clients in their own homes.
We’ve been able to grow our services a lot in the past two decades, which means we can look after our clients holistically. We still offer showering or domestic assistance as we always have, but now they can also have one of our occupational therapists visit them in their own home, or our nurses, or dementia experts. It goes a long way to improving their quality of life which is what Ozcare is all about.
It’s a great environment to work in still, everyone is aiming for the same goal - the optimum outcome for the client. At the end of the day that’s why I chose to work in this industry, and I still find it immensely satisfying.”
Ozcare client Inge Kochel
“I have been a client of Ozcare for 14 years. I started on low level care but with my increasing needs I’m now received a high level of support. The care provided to me has enabled me to stay at home knowing I can still live independently with support provided by Ozcare. I would adopt some of the carers if I was able!”