Leading her community organisation into the future at full speed
Claire is a person on a mission. She has been for a while, having worked across human services most of her 40-year career. Claire started her career as a social worker in public service which included holding senior roles in NSW Government Health, Attorney General’s Office and then an executive role in NSW Ageing, Disability and Home Care (ADHC) where she managed policy state-wide and was responsible for a workforce of 5,000 individuals.
Since the get-go Claire has been on a mission to help vulnerable people access better services and wider options, so as one would expect, she is a big supporter of the recently rolled out NDIS. In 2007 Claire took her wealth of knowledge and moved from public service to a community environment when she took up the CEO role at JewishCare. JewishCare provides support to thousands of people every year in NSW. The major programs are to support the aged living at home; people with a disability; people with a mental illness and children and families needing support. During her ten years at JewishCare she has led the not for profit through a fund raiser in 2010, a new building in 2012 and a recent 80 years anniversary. However, her biggest challenge lies ahead as she steers an organisation deeply entrenched in a close-knit community which has prided itself in community and cultural values, to refocus its service offerings making it ‘NDIS fit’.
Many providers are facing the same challenge of marrying community based values with the activity based insurance model of the NDIS. It’s a bit like the Dalai Llama meets Donald Trump.
Claire has faced this challenge head on and does not miss a beat. One of the biggest challenges any provider of care is currently grappling with, is maintaining a workforce, at a time when the flexible work options for support workers have increased exponentially with the proliferation of online platforms like Hire Up, Careseekers and Better Caring.
The difference is that JewishCare can combine its need for commercial focus, crucial under the NDIS with community based values and options like their access to 500+ volunteers or supports such as programs like Drop in Support, Print 35 Design Studio, Big Brother Big Sister and Camp Sababa and Sababa Senior. The Jewish community look after their most vulnerable better than any other cultural group in my opinion. Our wider Australian society can learn an immense amount from some of these programs which are now deeply embedded in the Jewish community. The benefits of such programs are multi-dimensional, with the volunteers benefiting in unexpected ways as well as breaking down societal barriers of inclusion and perceptions.
In a sector where personal relationships are so inextricably linked with the delivery of service, growing a workforce while managing staff turnover in a cohort known to be transient is not for the faint hearted. If anyone is up for the challenge, its Claire. JewishCare are looking at ways of providing choice for their community and this has involved redesigning their offering. The team has come up with ways to deliver social and cultural events that people love and value, like Friday night Shabbat dinners, Passover Seders or Rosh Hashanah celebrations in a sustainable way, allowing people to include these in their NDIS plans.
According to Claire the key is to “focus on what you are good at and do it well, and don't worry about what you don't do. “
Other exciting new services include a purpose-built kitchen to support groups of up to 10 people a day to learn about food preparation and other life skills for people aged 18 – 30 years old. For the moment, some of these programs are community funded but the trick will be to create opportunities for partnerships so the programs are self-sustaining.
For the moment, a huge contribution is being made by JewishCare in (NDIS) pre-planning which is the preparation involved in developing a comprehensive NDIS plan – requiring up to 15-20 hours of work, none of which is currently funded by the NDIS.
So, what does the future hold for JewishCare ? Lots of uncertainty, the need to break even, mobility devices, individualised recruiting and lots and lots of support co-ordination. It’s an organisation that its roots deeply embedded in community values and a savvy CEO, which we believe will immunise it from the forces and risks currently buffeting many of its peers.
JewishCare is listed on mycarespace here.
Here are some of the cultural activities which can be accessed via the NDIS with details of the corresponding support categories:
Shabbat Dinner : Support item 04_107_0136_6_1
Jewish Festivals: Support item 04_107_0136_6_1
Jewish Identity: Support item 04_107_0136_6_1