Pioneer House Mudgee became Whiddon Mudgee Pioneer on July 1.
In December 2019, the aged care provider Whiddon and Pioneer House announced a partnership for the two organisations to work together to explore potentially transferring ownership of Pioneer House to Whiddon.
Now that the dust has settled on the changeover, what does that mean for residents and their families, and will Whiddon Mudgee Pioneer drastically change what Pioneer House was before it?
The Mudgee Guardian spoke with Whiddon CEO, Chris Mamarelis to discuss these questions and more. Presented below in question and answer format.
There was a six month period [before the changeover] where you're weighing up the different options. What was it about Pioneer House that ultimately led you to make that choice?
Firstly, in regards to a process like this, it is complicated and it does take a fair bit of time to work through it. And that's what it's really all about, doing our due diligence process. But in terms of the home itself, we we're not too far away currently. We're over in Kelso so proximity is good in terms of our other homes.
Mudgee is a beautiful community - we're a provider of aged care services in regional communities so it's a really lovely fit for Whiddon as an organisation. We could just see that this home had a Whiddon look and feel about it which is exciting when we look into the future as well.
Most people know Pioneer House well and what it's about, will anything drastically change in the short term now that Whiddon is in control?
To begin with, what people see is more of the aesthetic changes in the really early days so there's building works and work going on in the kitchen and back of house. Team members will also get new uniforms.
You see a lot of that superficial type of work roll out but I think the really important stuff over time, what people will see and what residents in the community will see, is Whiddon is about our model of care our relationship based approach to care and supporting our people to deliver that care.
We have scholarships and leadership development programs. Over time that's the stuff that will turn it into a Whiddon home, so there'll be some aesthetic type work to begin with but the really meaningful work that will follow will take place over about a 12 month period.
What about long term, will there be more cultural changes than aesthetic?
That's a great starting place. At Whiddon we have what we call 'the Whiddon way' and that's essentially where our values sit and I think we need to understand the team members there and support them now to grow and develop that way.
With a lot of the work we do, our philosophy is central. People are central to that philosophy and our approach to care. So the people we care for and the people delivering that care, when they come together you have some absolutely outstanding outcomes.
What has the feedback been like from residents and families?
I've been out now a couple of times [to Mudgee] and I've met with the residents and their families and some of the team there on a number of occasions and it's all been very positive. We've been warmly welcomed by the local residents and families and we're really appreciative of that because it's a collaboration and we all have to work together now on this next step of the journey.
So they've been really positive and welcoming and the board's been very supportive and I think all that come together very nicely.
Pioneer House was a not-for-profit organisation, does that change with Whiddon?
I think it's really important to be honest with you, and that was one of the key drivers with the former board when transferring it over to Whiddon was that we are a not-for-profit. So that whole process a: becomes a little more seamless and b: there's values alignment and they understand what our intentions are as a not-for-profit so that all went together again very nicely.
Is there anything else you'd like to mention for our readers?
I think the key thing is really, we are genuinely excited to be coming into the Mudgee community, it means a lot to us as an organisation and it means a lot to us as a provider of services in regional communities at a time when the industry is under a lot of pressure, and there are a lot of providers that are walking away from regional hubs and regional centers.
I'm really proud that we're able to go in and support a home, not only to stabilize but to to grow and develop it into what is going to be a pretty special future.