Ann Young, Director of Care Services, Country Mile Home Care, a small aged care provider offering farm sitting with respite and transport services, highlights the provision of unique services could be an opportunity for smaller providers.
Having worked for a number of larger providers in a variety of roles for 24 years, Ms Young also believes people would prefer to speak to the same person and not a customer centre – something smaller providers offer, she highlights.
“Plus smaller providers have lower overheads, which means more money goes direct to the care of the client, and they will get a lot more hours out of the service,” she adds.
Ms Young says people living in rural areas often have different needs, but still deserve the care and services available to those living in metropolitan areas. She established Country Mile Home Care to help address some of the issues rural people face with having older relatives living with them on their property.
If the family or carer needs some respite, as well as needing care for the relative, they also need to consider who will oversee the property.
“If the family wants to go away, we care for the older person, but can also look after the dog and cat, throw a rug on the horse and a bale of hay in the paddock,” she says. “I’ve also been known to drive tractors for some clients!”
“The more I travelled around rural WA, the more I realised the need for this type of service. There is nobody doing it,” says Ms Young.
“Pets and animals are a major part of some people’s lives; if you don’t love their pets, they won’t love you and this part of care needs to be considered.”
Ms Young also points out in the middle of harvest it’s not always practical for farmers to take a day or more out of the schedule for a 900km round trip to take a loved one for day surgery or a hospital stay in Perth, and highlights travel costs can also be an issue.
“If you’re charging per km, no-one will pay for a day’s respite service if they live 200km away,” she points out. However, because Country Mile Home Care is a smaller provider, Ms Young says costs can be adapted. For instance, instead of charging per kilometre, which is what many larger providers charge, she charges for the amount of fuel used.
Another unique service offered by Country Mile Home Care is an individualised service for those needing assistance when travelling nationally or internationally. “For instance, if a person wants to go on a cruise but needs someone to help with for example changing catheter bags,” she says.
Ms Young says she got a good response when recently advertised for more carers to work with her. However, she notes this type of care work isn’t for everyone, and she only uses experienced and mature staff, who are carefully screened and can handle the responsibilities that life in rural and remote areas requires.