Member Spotlight with Regal Health’s Executive Chairman Anna Shepherd

Member Spotlight - Asking our members for their views and opinions

1. Regal Health have been accredited by ACHS for more than 27 years. Congratulations! What do you think has been the impact of accreditation on Regal’s ongoing approach to quality and safety over this time?

Thank you, we are proud to have been the first private organisation to be ACHS accredited back in 1994. In the early 90’s I was seeking a community of like-minded organisations equally committed to demonstrating quality and found this with ACHS. At the time ACHS didn’t accredit community-based organisations so I studied everything I could about quality and started to embed these standards in our organisation. I sought to define what quality meant to us, building policies, procedures and practices informed by our values, workforce and clients. We were very proud to have achieved this hospital standard accreditation in 1994. I strongly believe in delivering value for our Regal Community and ensure they experience safe, exceptional informed care. In choosing to maintain our accreditation we do so for their benefit. ACHS supports us in constantly seeking to raise the bar in terms of evaluating our systems and practices. This is evidenced in our extensive achievement ratings we have consistently achieved.

2. As a leader in health, care and disability, Regal Health have been serving their growing community for 55 years. There would have been many changes over this time to providing in-home health care. What is the one thing that has changed the most, and the one thing that has stayed the same?

The concept of care has remained the same, it is central to everything we do and we don’t compromise on that. What has changed the most? Our mindset which was traditionally clinical and set us apart in delivering home healthcare had to change. As we have expanded our service base, we had to truly understand what matters most to our individual clientele, adapting our foundation of strong clinical governance. However, what is most important is that we deliver this care focusing on the strengths and potential of the human be-ing beyond their illness, their families and communities, to be able to live their best life.

3. Regal Health have developed a governance framework that underpins all Regal Health’s clinical, personal and domestic services. Why is this so important and what tangible difference do you think this makes to Regal’s carers and its customers?

In the process of engaging Michael Hall as the CEO, we asked all the tough questions to transform Regal. Why are we doing it, does it meet the needs of our clientele, does it matter, is it going to deliver value? We have a complementary approach to governance and an aligned vision for our governance model. Whilst Michael was learning and evaluating Regal and its needs, I undertook a global sabbatical researching health, human engagement, behaviour, value, governance, public health and myself! We transformed a well-established complex governance structure and created a simple set of five pillars that exemplify our combined vision. They support a decision-making framework that provides clarity for every member of the Regal community, delivering trust in our culture.

4. With the bulk of Regal Health’s services conducted out in the community through community nurses as well as care and support workers, what has been the impact of COVID-19 on how they conduct their work?

With a strong governance framework the changes have not been as significant for our team as other organisations. Our operating system is a fully web-based mobile operating platform, facilitating the exchange of information and communication with field team members in real time. We implemented the provision and use of PPE and the testing and isolating of team members or clients. We have restricted the movement of our team across Sydney and region-specific team members to reduce the likelihood of infection. This has significantly increased the complexity of our operations but we have minimised risk and protected those we care for. To date, we have had no instances of COVID – 19 infection amongst our team or clients.

5. Is there one particularly memorable story from your own experience when it comes to safety and quality in the caring for others, that you wish to share?

There is the 101-year old golf professional with chronic wounds whose Doctor said ‘She will go to her grave with those wounds’. Her son did some research and was advised “She needs a Regal Nurse’. They contacted us and he was clearly frustrated that his feisty mother was being treated by her age and that her life limiting wounds would never heal. We set about being Regal, reviewing her nutrition and ordered a supplement and discovered there was a bio film preventing all the expensive products used from healing her wounds. Within four months of commencing the appropriate treatment it had healed completely, her quality of life was enhanced and she lived to 104. It takes a particular culture to deliver this outcome, with a can-do culture supported by advanced nursing practice to deliver healing, dignity and respect.

6. Is there one thing about you (e.g. personal skill or hobby) that most people wouldn’t be aware of, that you would like to share?

I’m enjoying this, there are so many hobbies I have. I started my career in fashion, I never intended to join the family business as I was raised in a very creative environment. Nearly 38 years later I have even astounded myself in my drive to raise the efficacy of nursing in the community and build a company that has positively impacted thousands of lives in delivering value.