In aged care, where many of Australia’s most vulnerable residents go to find help, rest and care, the quality and calibre of leadership are all the more important. The CEO of Autumn Aged Care, Ross Ferris, talks about his journey in aged care and what’s important.
Doing a Masters of Business Administration at Melbourne Business School, Ross hadn’t exactly figured out what he wanted to do afterwards. He knew that it was vital to operate and pour out his talents in an industry that was more personally connected.
Looking around at the sectors at the time he surmised that the aged care sector, still in its early stages of evolution, could be a sector he would be able to contribute to, develop and learn from. He journeyed about, looking in at some big operators but they were not for him. He wanted a place, an opportunity through which and in which he could contribute to in a meaningful way. Eventually, he landed in a position with Healthscope (a hospital operator) that allowed him to gain significant experience in hospital operations, design and development. He was able to get stuck into some of the core elements of the health sector including aged care, diagnostic imaging, pathology and general practice.
You may be wondering when the leap of faith into aged care was going to happen. Yes, we know, in every story there is the point where one must go forth and follow their heart. They must assess the risk, overcome adversity, and do the good they were meant to do, for Ross Ferris, it was in 2004 that he and a friend, Marie Ewart decided to contribute to the aged care service industry themselves.
Ross and Marie wanted to create a clinically excellent and customer-centered service. It was for residents with complex clinical needs that he and Marie wanted to shape their service. Ross attributes working with industry leading managers and staff of substance to where he and Autumn Care are able to operate today. He is incredibly thankful that many of the staff he has worked with over the years are still dedicated to aged care and continue to work with Autumn Aged Care in incredible ways. It is the longevity of partnership, sincerity of care and depth of steadfastness that Ross believes underpins the calibre of Autumn Care.
Digging deeper into the fuel behind the mission, the reason behind the pursuit, Ross speaks about a treasured moment in his aged care journey. He associates his aged care journey with the birth of his first child. She arrived right at the start of his journey and while it may have been risky to venture out on a new business with a new bub at home, he’s so glad he did.
Trying to nail down a favourite moment from Ross came to nought. He couldn’t pin down just one favourite moment. There are too many great moments with staff and families. Speaking into what he treasures in the day to day, Ross brings up reading every piece of feedback he gets from staff, residents and families and being able to take this feedback on very seriously.
And when the days are long and the environment difficult? Ross says there are two things that keep him committed to aged care through thick and thin. The first is the feeling that he is able to get knowing that a new resident has settled in and now calls it home. There’s nothing quite like knowing that someone has been able to feel safe, cared for and respected that they can be at peace and at home. Ross also loves knowing that family and friends are able to know their loved one is happy in their new home, comforted that their loved one is able to make new friends and enjoy the lifestyle offered in residential aged care.
Ross also speaks fondly of the great camaraderie with staff. A good joke goes indeed go a long way. Particularly it is the love, care and compassion that he sees staff show daily in their caring for others that bolsters his resolve and calling to be in aged care.
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