In conjunction with the collaboration, the ACG team had an opportunity to tour some of their aged care facilities. In an interview regarding their experience, members of the visiting team shared aspects of ACH Group’s care delivery that were adaptable in Malaysia and unique to them individually.
Branding Aged Care Articulately – Reeca Lim
For Reeca Lim, ACG’s marketing professional who conceptualises design and development, the tour was a chance to study the success model of care in a developed country, how it articulates their delivery of care and the distinctive approaches in cultivating aged care branding and prominence, as well as its impact on people.
The brand isn’t just about the building, it is about the continuous endeavours in developing and improving a comprehensive innovation framework (from software to hardware) and ensuring the message is effectively relayed to the public. This garners their stakeholders’ involvement to create changes that add value to the ecosystem.
“What stood out was how aged care is expressed and communicated to people. There is a dedication to the philosophy of healthy ageing and that care comes first, which is deeply internalised within the organisation from the grass roots to top management.
That philosophy; conveyed via service design and product innovation that is supported with evidence-based research is the pillar to success.”
Care Is About People – Paramjit & Tze Lin
Malaysia’s approach in healthcare has typically revolved around being illness-centric, but there is a paradigm shift of living better and not just longer. Nurse Manager, Paramjit Kaur stated that the approach in aged care has to focus on restoration, rehabilitation and supports healthy aging.
According to her, the best practices revolve around a person’s right to make choices for themselves. While healthcare providers give support by providing the necessary services, there must also be an emphasise on the care recipients’ participation to put effort into being healthy.
“At ACH, residents are encouraged to view ageing as a journey, not a destination. This cultivates a mindset to be healthier and as independent as possible which is reflective in their involvement in social activities etc.
Additionally, the homes didn’t seem institutionalised. There are signs of the personal touch everywhere in the way the rooms were done up. No two rooms are the same and there is a homely atmosphere all around. The residents are well dressed and groomed, and had varying meal times to suit their needs.
This practice emphasises the care recipient’s restoration, not institutionalising them.”
Registered nurse and care administrator, Tze Lin echoed her agreement with this sentiment, stating that parties who are interested in the aged care business need to perceive the elderly as unique individuals with their own goals in life – not as statistics – and then provide the conditions that will allow them to maintain their dignity.
“Is important to embed such a culture in your team and organisation as it will be reflected in the service provided and the care that people receive. For example, developers need to be mindful when designing the space and layout of a facility centre. If you’re building a facility for dementia patients, space needs to be taken into consideration as dementia patients value space.”
She also stated that inter-professional learning – between medical and non-medical disciplines – need to be cultivated to ensure there is a continuity or integration of care. This would also lead to aged care offerings that are disruptive to the norm, spurring innovative solutions that improves the quality of care for the elderly.
Adapting Operational Practices & Culture Specific Care – Derrick Chan
Quality standards are fundamental in the provision of service. Having shadowed and observed the day-to-day operations in a residential aged care facility, Derrick Chan – who conducts Research & Development in aged care affairs – stated that some of ACH’s standard operating procedures could be adapted in local practices.
This includes activity planning, meal preparation, care provision, health and safety, equipment usage, front and back office management, staff planning and so on.
“The similarity in what ACH practices and what we want to achieve overlaps in terms of the services, procedures and the administration required to ease a care recipient’s transition from the home to an aged care facility. For example, the utilisation of financial planners and downsizing consultants.”
Another aspect of ACH’s endeavours that struck a chord with Derrick was the provision of care to diverse cultures and how talents are developed to ensure sustainable human resource.
“There were programmes created as part of the good practice in aged care. For example, ACH Group has cultural-specific programmes that engages groups of participants from varied cultures to promote diversity in aged care, such as the Cambodian and Muslim community programmes. I believe this is relevant to Malaysia’s cultural experiences.
There are also tailored programmes designed to equip staff and volunteers from across the organisation with skills and specialised knowledge to carry out their duties. ACH Group has a Dementia learning programme which trains providers to enable people living with dementia to live a good life.
Moving forward in Malaysia, a dementia specialist advisory service can be setup as there is a lack of expertise and services in this area.”
Melinda U: Conviction In Care, Not Convenience
Given the similarities of the care delivery models and practices, General Manager of Managedcare Sdn Bhd, Melinda U shared her interest in understanding how ACH Group has come to refined their model over the course of their 65-year experience.
“Similar to Managedcare has done, ACH Group has made partnerships with universities for initiatives such as their ViTA project. I wanted to know in detail what did these partnerships entail, what is the business model and what were each party’s role in it. I also wanted to know the operational details of running an aged care facility on a day-to-day basis, what went well and what pitfalls to avoid. So when we operate our own facility, we’ll know how to do it right.”
She further stated that the basis for any operational designs and their subsequent modifications comes down to embodying the concept of person-centred care.
“For example, ACH assists people to retain their previous lifestyle and take steps – such as providing transport – to achieve it. They don’t turn life upside down just because its more convenient. Operations flow according to the care receiver’s rhythm.
There are challenges for organisations and businesses to balance operational and cost efficiency, but it can be done while maintaining sustainability. So for us it’s important that no matter how we balance these factors, we must stay true to what we believe in and keep our priority in line with our beliefs.”
In conclusion, we can look forward to the outcomes of this partnership as the synergy between the ACG and ACH Group’s care model and practices will open Malaysians to new possibilities of quality care.