Portrait of middle aged woman

AFTER BUILDING FEROS CARE GROUP FROM 100 TO 60,000 CLIENTS OVER A 20-YEAR PERIOD – DYNAMIC AND MUCH-LOVED FEROS CARE CEO, JENNENE BUCKLEY WILL LEAVE HER POST AT THE END OF JUNE 2021, LEAVING A REMARKABLE AND LONG-LASTING LEGACY FOR THE ORGANISATION.

Known for her passion, innovation and strategic thinking, Jennene says she’s so proud of Feros Care’s achievements in the past 20 years and has been honoured to have had the opportunity to work with such dedicated, passionate people.

“It’s been a journey I would have never imagined when I started 20 years ago. Our Board of Directors has allowed us to dream big, innovate and entrusted me to grow and diversify our organisation without losing sight of our mission and passion for making a difference in the lives of the people we care for and support.

"It has not been an easy journey, the pace of growth together with constant funding pressures, working through 10 years of reform, now another five years of significant change by government being announced, and with many other challenges to keep us busy including the Royal Commission, floods, fire, and the global pandemic. Despite these challenges we have been able to lift Feros Care onto the world stage, winning the Global Award for Excellence in Ageing Services twice, leading nationally and internationally in digital innovation and service models.

"Our workplace culture has kept us moving forward, despite the relentless pace, there has always been room for laughter and fun. The energy, the creativity, the boldness of Feros Care and a workplace where everyone matters, is something special and something that will position Feros Care well for the future”.

Feros Care Chair, Colin McJannett said Jennene has also made a significant leadership contribution to the aged care sector in Australia and as she steps away from the intensity of a CEO’s role, there is more she has to give on a sector-wide basis.

“Her contribution on the national boards of the Aged and Community Services Associations and the Aged Care Industry Information Technology Council, and her participation in the Royal Commission, have demonstrated an ability to contribute on a sector-wide basis. Added to this the experience in strategy, innovation and service transformation which places her well for the future”.

We’re excited to see her contribution to the industry be ongoing and to have her fighting in the corner to achieve the best care for seniors and people with disability in Australia.

Jennene's greatest Feros Care moments

Asking Jennene Buckley to select the highlight of her 20 years as Feros Care CEO is like asking a parent to name their favourite child – an impossible task. With so many memories and milestones to choose from, she has instead narrowed the list down to seven of the best.

2008 - Lifelink assistive technology service

Launching this service was the start of a decade of transformation in the way we provided care and support to our clients. With our remote vital signs and home safety monitoring systems, we started to look at technology we could put in the hands and homes of seniors and have gone on to introduce other initiatives such as our Healthy Life chronic disease program, virtual nursing and allied health, Virtual Social Centre and nextgeneration, Google-enabled smart home programs.

The key to our success has been the robust process used in testing the technology. We trial and pilot a lot of technology that never gets in the hands of seniors because it’s not appropriate or reliable and, when our teams do launch a new digital product or service, they have included our clients in the design and testing and then surround our clients with the support they need to help them overcome any concerns or anxieties. We get great feedback about our technology initiatives because we get them right.

2011 - Global International Ageing in Excellence Award

For a little organisation from Byron Bay to be presented with such a prestigious award in front of 10,000 people at the global conference in 2011 in Washington DC was an amazing moment for me. International peak body Global Ageing recognised us for our pioneering work in establishing Feros Central, our national contact and referral centre that saw us have one location for the provision of services and enabled all our staff in the field to work remotely.

This was ground-breaking at the time and the biennial award made us realise we could lead the world in aged care service delivery. Eight years later we were recognised again, in 2019 for our innovation with voice-activated service supports and the Virtual Social Centre and client portal.

For an award that is only given to one organisation globally every two years, to win twice has been a significant recognition and reward for our efforts in wanting to pioneer 21st Century Care.

2016 - Regional Assesment Services

Being chosen to commence the new Regional Assessment Service on behalf of the Federal Government was a game-changer. It demonstrated our capability to mobilise new national programs for the Government in a very short time frame. It also allowed us to connect with more than 35,000 seniors annually across New South Wales and Queensland and while the service is short term, with the team mainly providing assessment, planning and linkages to services, we play a vital role in setting the person up for success in achieving their goals to continue to live independently.

Winning such a huge service was proof that when a challenge is put in front of us at Feros Care, everyone just comes together to make it happen. From this service, a new independent company Aspire4Life was created, which has an exciting opportunity to grow nationally to become the government’s favoured partner in independent assessment and coordination.

2016 - Coming of age

2016 is a year I will never forget. From winning the largest allocation of Commonwealth Home Care packages nationally, growing our service footprint for community-based care to 29 Aged Care Planning Regions across five states and territories, and creating the Byron Model of Care that focused on the eight domains of wellbeing, this was a year our Grow Bold mission became a reality.

We were competing for tenders with over 1,000 organisations, doing incredible work with technology and our Grow Bold Not Old initiatives started to challenge the traditional thinking of aged care and ageing. We wanted to change the conversation to one where ageing is normal and doesn’t stop you from contributing to community, continuing to learn, engage and participate in life regardless of age.

With programs such as Graffiti Grans, Fearless Films, Gran Slam Poetry and Ask Gran Not Google unlike anything the industry had seen, and being recognised by the NSW Ministerial Advisory Committee on Ageing and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission for our work.

We didn’t just want to provide excellence in care but help older people live their best lives.

2017 - NDIS Partner in the Community

Winning the contract to be Local Area Coordinators for the NDIS in Mackay, Townsville, ACT, Northern Adelaide and Barossa Valley was a significant evolution for Feros Care. Overnight we moved from being an aged care organisation to a people care organisation, with our biggest client cohort now people under 65 years old.

Working with the Federal Government on the rollout and evolution of the NDIS has been exciting, challenging, exhausting and fulfilling. We were able to employ 180 people in the disability industry and Feros Care today supports more than 25,000 NDIS participants aged from 8 to 65. All the hard work has been worth it, as being an NDIS Partner in the Community has added so much richness to what we do.

2019 - Be Someone For Someone

Having grown from one retirement village in Byron Bay to touching the lives of 60,000 clients, Feros Care Group is now an organisation of influence and ready to take on bigger social issues. The launch of this charitable initiative to tackle loneliness is something I will always look back on with so much pride.

We have seen loneliness play such a huge role in aged care and disability, but it is an issue that affects all Australians, with one of the loneliest cohorts being young adults. We have committed to advocating for people suffering from loneliness and creating and growing impactful programs to enable meaningful connections and better wellbeing.

This issue has not been tackled properly and it is up to us to do it. Watch this space as I have no doubt Be Someone For Someone will one day be as respected, influential and important as Beyond Blue.

2020 - COVID response

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world forever, with the past year or so being one of the most exhausting, worrying and proudest periods of my Feros Care journey. In the early months of the crisis, there was a lot of talk about the impact on residential aged care but what went under the radar were the millions of independent seniors who were sitting in their homes. Our staff and volunteers were heroic, risking their own safety to continue to care for our clients within hot spots, towns and locations that presented high risks. I don’t think people realise what a huge job it has been to keep our staff safe and our clients supported.

Staff and volunteers across the organisation came together to establish outbound call teams, hotlines, distribution centres, COVID check-in stations and emergency control teams. We rolled out wellness and resilience programs to support our people emotionally. We once again rose to the challenge and that is because our values are strong at Feros Care. People matter, people care. It is part of our DNA.

This is an extract from the newest issue of the Feros Magazine. You can read more here

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