Introducing the Warrigal Way

This year Warrigal won the National Provider of the Year Award from Aged and Community Services Australia. It’s a major achievement recognising the 51 years of outstanding work by everyone who has been part of the Warrigal journey including our incredible customers, wonderful volunteers, kind staff, innovative business partners and our inspiring community – and we thank them all for their contribution to this great vision that older people across the Illawarra and Southern Highlands could have great lives!

So why did we win? It can be summed in the one unique element that sets us apart from the thousands of other services across Australia – The Warrigal Way.

And what is the Warrigal Way I hear you ask? It’s something that’s been created over a number of years, built into our DNA. I really believe it comes from our origins in being established by a group of community-minded volunteers. Some of whom are still part of Warrigal today, like the inspiring Norm Rowland, still a volunteer at Warrigal at the mere age of 98! It means we have been a part of our community since day one, and this continues to be how we operate.

We are about to embark on a conversation with our community about what the Warrigal Way means to them. But for me, it is about putting older people first in everything we do; engaging them at every level of the organisation; smashing ageist paradigms and changing mindsets about aged care and retirement living; and building an intentional culture that celebrates all of this and more.

It is also about the everyday little things that are vitally important: that we are all about fresh food and serving fresh food choices at every meal at every aged care home; delivering lifestyle and wellness programs with an emphasis on connection not illness; and building inspiring communities through an approach that enables people to create their home environment when they move in with Warrigal.

Then there’s the other details like the fact we are owned and governed by community volunteers, not rich investors! There are no shareholders, or bonuses or executive privileges. We have gold level environmental sustainability initiatives and a relentless search for innovative improvements with our university research partnerships.

But most of all, it’s that we create affordable, inspiring communities for older people with exceptional places and a compelling purpose…this is what makes the Warrigal Way.

When I show family, friends, colleagues and others through some of our homes and villages they are genuinely surprised. Often they say “This is not what I thought aged care was” – and that’s the response we want people to have when they come to our places. That’s the Warrigal Way.

Think you know aged care? Think again! Step inside our Shell Cove community and be part of the difference!

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Designing for Dementia - Doors hold the key to feeling like home

Dementia is a very big issue for Australia. There are 425,416 Australians living with dementia and an estimated 1.2 million Australians involved in their care and #Every3Seconds someone in the world develops dementia.

Being an award winning aged care and retirement living provider in SE NSW, Warrigal wants to offer our customers the best building and interior designs to ensure people living with dementia at Warrigal experience comfort and ease.

Recent research conducted by Warrigal and the University of Wollongong (UOW) has supported the implementation of striking door designs in assisting with way-finding around our homes.

In several of our aged care homes across the Illawarra, doors into resident own spaces have been designed with unique architectural features including colours, front door mouldings, room numbers, and different door knobs to help support customers to feel at home and to help recognise their own private suite more easily. The hallways have also been designed with brick and timber wall wraps to further support wayfinding.

Some of the other features of the newest aged care community at the Shell Cove Marina include a 1950s backyard complete with a timber shed and an original looking Hills Hoist to encourage connection and reminiscence.

Warrigal is now building on this knowledge with specific dementia training, partnering with the well regarding Dementia Training Australia at the UOW. We are implementing new ideas, fresh thinking and innovative approaches to help improve the lives of people with dementia and their family and friends and helping to create a dementia-friendly world. Anyone can make an appointment to visit Warrigal’s locations by contacting the Service Innovation Team on 1800WARRIGAL.  

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9 Tips in 9 minutes with Warrigal's CEO

We sat down with our Warrigal CEO, Mark Sewell, and asked him for his best advice for those looking to be successful leaders of the future. Here’s the wisdom he shared with us:

1. Behave, and even dress, like the person above your role. When you do this, the people more senior than you appreciate you and see your value and often ask you to act up in their roles.

2. Get educated and keep it as general as possible. I started as a social worker but then added graduate diploma in public service management and then an MBA with a major in business law. I got good advice by a mentor to not stay a narrow expert but to become a generalist with broad qualifications and skills.

3. Learn to manage stress and pressure as there will be lots of it. I can recall driving home at times thinking that there is no way I can manage the situation that has arisen at work and that a disaster is about to fall on me and the organisation. Usually after a good night’s sleep, some careful consultation and the passage of time things work through to turn out better than you fear. Simple stress management techniques, trusted advisors and experience over time will help you to become a leader who is calm under pressure.

4. Get a Mentor or at least a mature sounding board. Everyone in a position of significant responsibility needs an independent person they can trust to be a wise sounding board. Not someone who’ll react and defend you but someone who will calmly respond to your issues and guide you through - every good leader needs one.

5. Love the company. This sounds corny but it really helps to do your work, to keep your energy levels up and to bring lots of people along with you as you work together to achieve good results. It’s worth remembering that the only reason you and your team have your positions is because the company needs you. If you can’t love the company and what it does and what it stands for you definitely can’t be its leader.

6. Keep your ego in check. You will achieve almost nothing on your own as a CEO and you will rely more and more on other people and their trust in you and their goodwill to work hard for you. Despite what you’ve heard, no one likes an alpha leader. In fact no one these days likes any arrogance in leadership. Everyone appreciates being appreciated. Be a Chief Encouragement Officer.

7. Remember you will always be on show whether you are on duty or not. All your behaviour, in and out of hours, at work and at home, is ambassadorial. This new media world of transparency and accountability means everything you do or say or tweet reflects on you, on your role, on your team and on your organisation. You’ll have to let go of almost all your personal angry opinions, and that’s not easy for leaders who have lots of them. In fact, I’ll set an even harder challenge, always be positive and good-humoured. Have fun and add a lightness to your responsibilities. People warm to this and the positivity will be really good for you too.

8. The most successful CEOs I have seen have previously been part of management in larger organisations. Consider getting experience in a larger organisation that applies all the management techniques you need then move to a smaller organisation where you will be more senior and not phased by growth and issues that are emerging for the future. It’s hard for selection committees to feel confident in rising stars without experience when it comes to the top job.

9. Finally, wait for your time. See senior management as the long game. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of grey hair and wisdom and decades of experience to steady a ship and guide it to growth.

So there you have it straight from the CEO – and his final words for anyone looking to take on a leadership role?

“The world needs more trustworthy, diligent, clever CEOs so, go for it!”

Mark Sewell2

Contact us

2 Pine Street, Albion Park Rail, NSW 2527
PO Box 435 Albion Park, NSW 2527
Email: warrigal@warrigal.com.au
Fax: 4257 4232

Toll free: 1800 WARRIGAL

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Volunteer with us

Warrigal was founded by volunteers and they continue to be vital to ensuring our residents happiness. From driving buses to regular visits, even assisting with our business operations, we have many varied opportunities for anyone who would like to donate their time, energy and skills to Warrigal’s residents.

Apply now