Ideas are generally what lead people on the path to disrupting an industry. But as one business owner explains, there is a crucial element in bringing disruptive ideas to life.
Many people look at an industry from the outside and seek to disrupt it by bringing a new perspective. Others, however, recognise opportunity while working within an industry, and seek to evoke change from within.
The latter is certainly true for Natasha Chadwick. Natasha has worked in the aged care sector for more than 20 years, and recognised that there was room to do things differently for the benefit of their end users. It was this desire for change that led her to establish Synovum Care Group.
“Aged care is very traditional. It's operated in the same way for many, many years,” she says.
That same way has involved building hospital-like institutions, which house a large number of residents in a clinical-like environment.
Yet Natasha argues such a model isn’t in the best interests of the very people it is trying to serve – the elderly and frail.
“All of the international research, all of the research here in Australia says, particularly if you're living with dementia or a complex care need, that you need a normal environment. And yet, somebody who's living with dementia is then admitted to a really large institutional environment, and you know, they lose themselves,” she says.
“And in many cases, they get sicker or might die faster than they normally would have if they'd stayed at home, if they could have been supported in their home.
“We didn't really believe that there was a lot of choice that was being offered in aged care, in traditional aged care.”
Yet in addition to the physical premises, Natasha saw a broader opportunity to change the way services were provided.
“Our staff model is incredibly task-focused in aged care. And that's not our staffs’ fault; that's the way that the industry has evolved. But they're so used to doing it that way that they don't know how to do it in any other way,” explains Natasha.
“Breaking that down in our current aged care environments has been incredibly difficult, and every day it continues to be difficult.”
For Natasha, breaking down the old models and processes with her industry involved bringing new people into the industry with different experiences and an ability to approach aged care from a different perspective.
“They weren't tainted by, you know, the previous aged care environment. And we just trained them, and gave them a lot of education, a lot of support to actually be able to undertake our model,” she says.