24 September 2015

5th Biannual Preventing Workplace Psychological Injury Conference Recap

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I had the immense privilege of attending last week’s 5th Biannual Preventing Workplace Psychological Injury Conference that was held at the Grace Hotel in Sydney last week. The inspiring speakers and the stories they shared are sure to stick in the minds of those who attended for weeks to come.

It was fascinating – yet heart wrenching – to hear about the struggles employees face in different industries. One of the main stories that jumps to my mind is the one shared by Colin Anderson, Director of Safety and Wellbeing for the Queensland Police, who confronted the room with the tragedy of a police woman who committed suicide in their workplace. She had a mental illness, but she was one of their star performers, so how could they have known? Andrew Layton from Caterpillar Underground Mining and Rosemary Selkrig from mining and construction company Mandalay Resources shared with us the struggles of ‘blokey’ and male-dominated environments, where you don’t talk about how you feel because that just isn’t what  ‘real men’ do.

Speaking of which, make sure to check out beyondblue’s Man Therapy, which Janine Scott briefly discussed.

In a completely different work environment, Vicki Irvine, Rachel Clements and Kate Dobbrick discussed mental health in law firms, where over-working is rewarded and the suicide rates are soaring. Finally, for me and probably for many who were there, the most interesting and enlightening presentation was from Kylie who discussed how it was to live with a mental illness.

Now you may think that it was a very depressing event, what with the stories of suicides, broken families, uncomprehensive bosses and abusive colleagues, but there was a lot of positive takeaways on how to empower managers with the tools to help their staff and strategies to create mentally healthy workplaces. A number of presentations touched on this, as well as an entire afternoon workshop by Dr Natasha Kiso, Director of PsyFlex, who discussed how to create a psychologically healthy workplace. The main strategies that were shared to ensure this were surprisingly simple:

·         Offer flexible working arrangements

·         Be genuinely interested in the wellbeing of staff

·         Regularly check in with colleagues

·         Don’t be shy to say that you’ve noticed a change in behaviour

·         Address wellbeing concerns before even approaching performance issues.

 To me, this sounds so incredibly simple and intuitive and this shouldn’t require the implementation of programmes and strategies. It may sound terribly naïve on my part, but from my understanding (and I do underline that I am not an expert), the most effective way of preventing workplace psychological injury is being human.

The fact that organisations feel the need to send staff to events such as this one isn’t an indicator that there are more psychological injuries today. It’s an indicator that employees are feeling safer in addressing the issue – which is great – but it’s also an indicator that businesses have forgotten how to be empathetic in their quest to increase productivity and reach KPIs.

Creating a mentally healthy workplace is about making sure that your employees feel safe and comfortable, it’s about genuinely caring about the wellbeing of your staff and colleagues. This should be natural, and yet it seems like our society is overthinking it.

If a single teaching is to be remembered from this conference, it is this: don’t overthink it, don’t just tick a box to qualify as a positive workplace. Just make sure you tap into your inner-human.   

Although Alexandra didn’t know much about conference production before first coming across this opportunity with Akolade, she has quickly become passionate about her job. Gaining in-depth knowledge in a variety of new fields without going through exam stress? Who could ask for more? If ever you speak to Alexandra and wonder what that funny accent is, it is from Quebec, French-speaking Canada. Do not hesitate to ask Alexandra about her former life on the 47th parallel; she will be thrilled to talk to you about snow storms, skiing and -35⁰c!


22 September 2015

What is it? Where are we heading?

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“Social entrepreneurs are not content just to give a fish or teach how to fish. They will not rest until they have revolutionized the fishing industry.” 
Bill Drayton, Leading Social Entrepreneurs Changing the World

Most of us recognise the word ‘social enterprise’ but not many of us are aware of what they do.

The definition of social enterprise varies across the globe due to differing policies and regulations. In Australia, social enterprises are organisations that exist to fulfil a mission consistent with public or community benefit, trade to fulfil that mission, and reinvest a substantial proportion of their profit or surplus in the fulfilment of mission (Barraket et al., 2010).

A widely known social enterprise is Thankyou Water who won the youth led social enterprise of the year award in 2013 (hosted by Social Traders). They sell bottled water in Australia to fund water projects in developing countries. The purchase of a bottle of water is estimated to provide at least one month of safe drinking water to those in need. The organisation was created in 2008, and has provided funds over $347,689 and helped over 18,800 people across Cambodia, Uganda, Kenya, Timor-Leste, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.

The concept of a social enterprise may sound straightforward but it is very difficult to implement in practice and takes years to get the internal strategies and processes correct.    

This year’s social enterprise awards recognised the efforts and achievements of some of the best social enterprises in Australia. Here is a list of 2015 winners:

·         Australian Social Enterprise of the Year (Small): Nundah Community Enterprises Cooperative Ltd (Qld)

·         Australian Social Enterprise of the Year (Large): Salvos Legal Limited and Salvos Legal (Humanitarian) Limited (NSW)

·         One to Watch Award: Pollinate Energy (VIC)

·         Social Enterprise Innovation Award: Sprout (WA)

·         Social Enterprise Investment Award (tied): STREAT (VIC) & Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Food Justice Truck (VIC)

·         Buy Social Award: Good Samaritan Industries (on behalf of the Western Australia Disability Enterprise Alliance)

·         Social Enterprise Champion Award: Luke Terry  

Another successful example of a social enterprise is The Fair Trade Coffee Company which was established in August 2006 as the first fair trade café in Sydney. The organisation has a goal to alleviate poverty while empowering producers in developing countries. It has an annual turnover of $500,000 and has been successfully created a space in the market for high quality fair trade tea and coffee. 

Many of the younger upcoming entrepreneurs are keen to make a social difference using their commercial business skills. Due to the high demand in this space, the Macquarie Graduate School of Management has set up Australia's first master of social entrepreneurship. Haski-Leventhal, senior lecturer from the Macquarie Graduate School of Management said that “A social enterprise can be a not-for-profit, or a business, or any kind of entity that the social entrepreneurs try to create”
Due to the declining government funding there is a clear need for Not-for-Profits to innovate and social enterprise might just be the solution.
When Aranei was seven she truly believed she could one day train turtles in the Galapagos. Unfortunately she came to the realization that such a thing could never happen. A couple of years later, she decided to be a conference producer and has never looked back. The best part of her role is exploring different sectors and getting in-depth insights from thought leaders and well-experienced specialists from varying sectors.         


14 September 2015

Guest blog by Walter de Ruyter: Transfer of Care for Complex Health Consumers (Part 2)

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Last week's blog looked at changing transfer of care models and adapting consumer expectations and social inclusion and wellbeing. This week, Walter will sum up the blog by looking at introducing new funding models.

Introducing new funding models
There are a number of key funding instruments, Medicare rebates for General Practitioners, ACFI for aged care and Diagnostic Related Groups (DRGs / Casemix) for Acute Health Services. They are performance based funding instruments. To build health capacity they could be adapted in the case of ACFI to fund RN positions in ageing in place services in return for the provider participating in planned care models at point of need. Tools such as pathway mapping already exist and have been successfully used as evidenced by Canterbury Health Services New Zealand following the Christchurch Earthquake.
Registered Nurses in aged care are strong contributors to capacity. Combined with planned events of care at point of need can reduce demand on hospital beds through reduced transfers’ to hospital or earlier transfers’ back to residential and community services through transitional beds with significant savings to the community whilst improving the quality of care for recipients.
The Australian federal government recently restructured Medicare Locals into Primary Health Care Networks. The result has been a reduction in the overall number of Medicare Locals and a move away from direct provision of services to developing a framework of providers meeting the health needs of community groups specific to their health profile and demographic. Consumers in these networks have greater influence as to the use of funding under the auspice of the primary health care network. These primary networks have the future potential to be the key driver as to transfer of care models not only at point of service such as hospitals, but more importantly at point of need such as the persons’ home where ever that may be.
The rate and increase of the aged population creates a strong need for alternate revenue resources such as Social Investment Bonds as a means of funding health and wellbeing services. Financial markets do not have a shortage of capital they have a shortage of safe havens for capital investment. An example of a social investment bond is Newpin the first bond issued in Australia managed by Uniting Services. These bonds are a future revenue stream which is performance based, subject to the rules of commerce and investment rather than the vagaries of the political cycle.

The integration of care between service providers is an essential element in developing the necessary solutions to manage the health and wellbeing of an aging community. This can be achieved when key partners reorientate in unison the physical and social infrastructure of their services to collectively demonstrate a health gain. This strategy of reorientating physical and social capital need only to be minor by each stakeholder but when applied collectively has a significant local impact. The result will free up much needed local hospital beds whilst enhancing the care received by an aging population outside of a hospital setting. A challenge for health and care leaders is how they demonstrate to the community a style of leadership that brings about a whole of community response to promoting the health and wellbeing of an aging population.

Walter will be speaking at the upcoming Transfer of Care for Complex Consumers Conference on 1-3 December. He will be a key speaker on the panel discussion discussing Complexity scales: Are they a useful tool for operational managers in transition care?

Walter de Ruyter comes to the aged care industry with background in health over the past 33 years. This has culminated in gaining experience across a range of vocational disciplines in nursing, midwifery and anaesthetics. The challenge is to provide services to ageing communities in a way that meets people's expectations. With the advent of consumer directed care these clients often do not see themselves as being old but just needing a hand to remain well and part of their community irrespective of where they live.


11 September 2015

Guest blog by Kerry Fallon Horgan: Leaders making flexibility happen

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Many organisations have excellent flexible workplace policies but fail to deliver the promised work/life balance. Broken promises are even more damaging than not having the policies in the first place. Leadership is the key driver for change to a workplace where flexible policies are a reality.
To achieve a culture that will support flexible work practices, leaders need to walk the talk as well as being willing to openly discuss their work/life values and how they make them work. It’s this ongoing, authentic dialogue that enables a workplace that cares about its people.

As one banking corporation CEO said “it's important that the leaders in the organisation set the right example, both in their behaviour and in the way they treat their staff. As senior managers, we do this by talking about balance and about the example we set, the times of day we call meetings and when we expect people to be somewhere. We question whether we are flexible in our attitudes in terms of recognising that people do have to have a balance between work and family.

At a recent leadership forum, a Chief Executive described how just prior to his first meeting with the Board of Directors, he received a call to care for a sick child. He met the Directors, explained why he could not attend the Board meeting and showed great strength of character in acting on his values.
Another senior manager, when challenged about sending electronic mail messages from home at 11 p.m., described the reality of the situation "The reason I sent electronic mail messages out last night was yesterday afternoon I was with my architect. I got home from school speech night and I had an hour to kill while my wife was making chocolates, I thought I’ll catch up with my mail, and I sent out notices. I had no expectation that you guys would be out there answering them."
This is a vivid example of organisational culture change in action through dialogue. The catalyst for change works like this: assumptions behind strongly held views surface and, by talking them through, the reality of the situation becomes clear.

It has been found that the process of challenging old assumptions and cultural beliefs that underlie work and work–family integration frees employees to think more creatively about work in general and provides companies with a strategic opportunity to achieve a more equitable, productive and innovative workplace.

Current work environments require employees to continually raise the bar in work performance without the requisite resources to do so. More organisations are finding that a way to achieve this performance is through reciprocity. That is “you treat me fairly and well and I’ll go that extra mile for you”. For many this sense that the organisation cares about their wellbeing is in making flexible work practices a reality.
A key starting point for flexibility at work is ensuring leaders give permission for employees to use these practices by modelling and talking about work/life balance and making opportunities to do so at various forums both formal and informal. A facilitated dialogue with the senior leaders is an important first step in the process, I’ve found it is valuable to have an expert in this field facilitate at least the first of these important conversations.
Kerry Fallon Horgan will be speaking at the upcoming Attract and Retain Working Women Conference that will be held in Sydney from 29th September - 1st October 2015. She will be discussing the importance of leadership and overcoming the many challenges of achieving a flexible workplace culture. For further information on creating flexible workplaces go to www.flexibility.com.au.
Kerry Fallon Horgan has worked for more than a decade as a facilitator, coach and diversity advisor to organisations across the private, public and community sectors. Among her roles, she’s the CEO of the Women’s Healing Org International, which provides free resources on women's health, work-life balance and financial wellbeing.
She is the author of a book, e-learning program and guidelines on implementing flexible work practices. In a government capacity, Kerry has worked for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and chaired a major advisory body to NSW government on women's issues, the Women’s Consultative Committee. She was also a board member of Women & Management and on the Executive of the NSW EEO Practitioner's Association.
Her clients have included the ABS, AMP, ANAO, ANZ Bank, APSC, Australian Securities & Investment Commission, Chandler & Macleod, Citigroup, Chevron, Leighton Constructions, Lend Lease and NSW State Records.

09 September 2015

Risk in cloud computing

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There is a risk involved in pretty much everything we do in life. For instance there is a risk that we might miss the train in the morning or a risk that we might trip over and fall while walking. Likewise in cloud computing there is a risk that our data might be hacked into if it is not safely secured and protected. This is part of the reason why APRA recently released an information paper titled Outsourcing Involving Shared Computer Services (Including Cloud) which provides guidance to the finance industry on how to best tackle security and risk concerns surrounding sensitive data such as customer details.

 APRA has highlighted the two most common types of risk, 'low risk' and 'heightened inherent risk". Low risk services includes shared facilities with each entity's IT assets located on separate hardware and shared infrastructure hosting data that is either "low criticality", desensitised or publicly available. Whereas heightened inherent risk includes exposure to un-trusted environments; the 'public cloud'; and arrangements where providers, the shared computing service or the specific usage has an "unproven track record".

Financial service providers such as banks used to be quite uncertain about transitioning to the cloud mainly due to security and risk concerns. Here are some of the potential implications if a risk management framework hasn’t been implemented effectively:

·         The cloud vendor might have an outage which will most likely reflect on your organisation’s reputation and image

·         Your data might be less safe when it is offshore making it more prone to hacking and other security concerns

·         A potential for theft and loss of customer data – this could be accidental or deliberate

·         And many more!

Mind you despite these risks, there are quite a lot of benefits of transitioning to the cloud as outlined by this article:

Reduced IT costs: The lack of physical hardware the need for expert staff – transitioning to the cloud is quite a bit cheaper in the long term 

Scalability: You have the freedom to scale up you IT systems or scale them down in accordance to demand

Business continuity: It is another method of protecting your data and allows access in an event of a crisis, natural disaster or a power outage

Collaboration efficiency: Allows your organisation to share and communicate more easily 

Flexibility of work practices: It allows your employees to access data even when they are not physically in the office

So as a financial providers thinking about transitioning to the cloud, here are a few things to consider as outlined by this article:

·         Privacy agreement and service level agreement: need to understand the responsibilities of the vendor, as well as your own responsibilities

·         Security and data protection: will be required to implement tight security measure to ensure that your data is safe

·         Location of data: need to be know where your data is stored and the laws around security and privacy in that country

·         Legislation and regulation: need to be aware of and understand the Australian legislative and regulatory requirements

There are things that we do to mitigate risk. For example making sure to wake up early so that we don’t miss the train or making sure that we aren’t running in heels. Likewise, I believe the recent release of APRA’s guidelines is simply a way to ensure that customer data safe and secure.
When Aranei was seven she truly believed she could one day train turtles in the Galapagos. Unfortunately she came to the realization that such a thing could never happen. A couple of years later, she decided to be a conference producer and has never looked back. The best part of her role is exploring different sectors and getting in-depth insights from thought leaders and well-experienced specialists from varying sectors.     

08 September 2015

Guest Blog by Walter de Ruyter: Transfer of Care for Complex Health Consumers (Part 1)

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Baby Boomers as a demographic have defined every market as they have aged. A number of care providers in both acute and aged care liken the changes with consumer-directed care as an express train minutes away from leaving the station. These services are doing as much as possible to ensure they are on board and are the drivers of the care experience expected by this demographic. Complacency in this changing market will see many polishing their vintage trains and wondering why they have less and less passengers.
Changing transfer of care models and adapting to consumer expectations

The consumer’s expectations of care are changing with the following comment resonating with many;

“I was sick recently and needed to go to hospital. Staff were all caring but I felt like a widget on a production line. I will probably need to go to hospital again…there needs to be a better way?”  (Resident in aged care 2015).

This is in an environment where the expenditure of the health budgets are increasingly influenced or directly controlled by consumers and recognition by providers to move the rate of unplanned to planned episodes of care resulting in strong interest to evaluate transfer of care models.

As background to the changing expectations of consumers there is a growing trend towards social wellbeing through a model of change called collective impact to build capacity through networked community solutions.

This model focuses on the reorientation of physical and social capital for the benefit of local communities. A recent example is in the Queensland City of LoganTogether collective impact initiative a key project called: “City of Choice Two-Year Action Plan 2013-2015”. Logan Together aims to close the gap so that, by the age of eight, Logan children will be as healthy as any other group of Australian children and reach agreed health, education and social milestones[1].

The above will increasingly influence health and wellbeing models. The expectation of wellbeing in Logan children is mirrored in care expectations by baby boomers who have influenced every market as this consumer demographic ages. This expectation has significant implications for service providers as per the enclosed example for aged care. To learn more on future wellbeing models, please read this paper on Consumer Directed Care Social Inclusion & Wellbeing.

Social inclusion and wellbeing

Service funding is tied to key performance measures of care predominantly within the service and not between services. The consumer is seeking a seamless health and well-being experience where increments of care from a variety of providers are sequenced specific to their needs from entry to exit. In many services measures of process and practice between services are not evident, whilst many funding sources external to the provider do not ask for how well a consumer is transferred between care. Pathways are such a measure and we can ask ourselves how many pathways do services participate in that guides the journey of the consumer between multiple providers? 

The following conversation topics have a focus on building capacity through planned care at point of need.  A fundamental building block of collective impact strategies is networks which have an aligned focus. Two key elements are reorienting physical and social capital. An example of reorienting physical capital is addressing the question; each time an aged care resident occupies a hospital bed their aged care beds is empty? This suggests health does not have a bed problem with its hospitals; it has a service delivery opportunity.  

An example of reorienting social capital is the observation that it is cheaper to change staffing models than building new hospital beds. The Australian Federal Government has made changes recently to the classification of aged care beds by removing the distinction between high and low care to ageing in place. Regulations in NSW stipulate that ageing in place requires 24hr Registered Nurses cover, currently a subject of a current NSW Parliament enquiry. The present aged care funding model results in many small providers not having the capacity to generate enough income to cover wages for 24 hour registered nurses with the advent of this change to ageing in place. The question that can be asked; can the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI) be changed to incentivize providers to employ Registered Nurses?
Part 2 of the Transfer of Care for Complex Health Consumers blog will look at introducing new funding models.
Walter de Ruyter will be speaking at our upcoming Transfer of Care for Complex Consumers Conference on 1-3rd December in Sydney.  

Walter de Ruyter comes to the aged care industry with background in health over the past 33 years. This has culminated in gaining experience across a range of vocational disciplines in nursing, midwifery and anaesthetics. The challenge is to provide services to ageing communities in a way that meets people's expectations. With the advent of consumer directed care these clients often do not see themselves as being old but just needing a hand to remain well and part of their community irrespective of where they live.