Innovation at core of Royal Freemasons aged care services

SET TO CELEBRATE its 150th anniversary in 2017, aged care services provider Royal Freemasons remains one of the most innovative and progressive organisations in Australia.

For more than a century, Royal Freemasons has innovated its facilities and services, collaborating with a range of industry partners and universities, to achieve its single mission, what it calls a “simple and principled aim” – to ensure its customers “live a secure, dignified and rewarding life”.

Royal Freemasons operates nine aged care and retirement homes of its own across Victoria and is collaborating with others on aged care services, including Masonic Care Tasmania.

Royal Freemasons chief executive Felix Pintado  said the organisation worked in partnership with the National Ageing Research Institute to develop new ways to continue meeting customers’ needs and aspirations as they transition through aged care.

Working with Deakin University, Royal Freemasons has in recent years improved staff skills base in mental health care and has also worked with La Trobe University on a project to up-skill staff in emotional intelligence (EI). This is all designed to contribute to a better customer experience.

Royal Freemasons has partnered with Alzheimer’s Victoria to stage the first ever conference looking at ‘intimacy as we age’.

Now expert staff members are involved in the State Government’s Medicine Senior Reference Group and we are involved in an international skills exchange program with SIM University Singapore.

So renowned has Royal Freemasons become in the way it innovates and develops more sensitive and efficient aged care, the organisation regularly receive visitors from overseas – most recently from  Japan, Malaysia, China and Singapore. – who are keen to learn about the facilities designed and built in recent times and, as importantly, how they are operated. 

A good example of the standing with which Royal Freemasons is regarded was the extraordinary recent visit by Tokyo Institute of Technology fellow and professor Takanori Shibata. He has invented a remarkable robot – in the appearance of a seal – which is getting great results in assisting people with dementia.

Prof. Shibata visited Royal Freemasons’ Copin Centre to personally reinforce how technology can play an important role in delivering a better quality of life for people in aged care. His robotic Paro seal was specifically developed as a therapeutic device to assist people managing dementia and has been successfully used worldwide to provide calming and caring of aged persons. The seal has been acclaimed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the best device ever developed for this work, helping dementia residents who have known behaviours such as agitation, wandering and aggression and who are resistive to standard intervention practices.

As a result of the visit, and through benefactors Aya and Keith Thornton, an initial eight Therapeutic Robot Seals have been purchased for Royal Freemasons our aged care customers who are managing dementia.

The robot reacts to the attention given by a person as if it was a child and has been shown to have very excellent therapeutic effects on the wellbeing of the individual. The initial rollout of the Paro seals has commenced and it will be continually monitored in order to evaluate and instigate further rollouts to other customers, to help improve their quality of life.

“I am proud to oversee a very special organisation caring for nearly 1600 older Australians,” Mr Pintado said. “To meet demand, we are growing our services and recently added 215 aged care beds and 40 independent living units to our mix. \

“We want to offer people the very best of care and exceed their expectations. To ensure this, we have carefully aligned our services to meet the Federal Government’s Living Longer Living Better Legislation.

“In recent times, we have built on a long-standing tradition of excellence by introducing a range of new, high quality and caring options. We are constantly endeavouring to exceed our customers’ exacting standards and am confident that we have exceeded them at our new developments Streeton Park in Heidelberg and Coppin Suites at Coppin Centre.”



101 Warehousing warns on supply chain ‘wastage’

ASTUTE business leaders know that eliminating wastage is one of the quickest and most effective ways to improve the bottom line. Director of 101 Warehousing, Adrian Kagan, is keen to educate business leaders about the costs of wastage in an area often overlooked: the supply chain.

“In today’s competitive environment it is critical that businesses are continually conducting strategic reviews to ensure wastage is minimised,” Mr Kagan said.

“If you manufacture or import products selling to market, an area often neglected is the supply chain of the organisation. I see this too often when speaking to potential clients.”

Mr Kagan said potential customers often cited an inability to explain or clearly pinpoint the actual costs of getting a product to market.Business stock image

“Wastage comes from many areas in the supply chain from freight blow outs, poor warehouse utilisation, stock control, through to double and triple handling of products,” Mr Kagan said.

A qualified CPA, Mr Kagan’s concerns in this area stem from more than 12 years experience in managing finance and administration departments in the logistics industry – and more recently establishing service level agreements with clients, managing the commercial areas of contracts – integrating that experience into 101 Warehousing’s systems and operations.

“Streamlining a business’s supply chain will achieve substantial efficiencies resulting in faster throughput and material cost reductions,” Mr Kagan said.

“The bottom line is that logistics should be a core focus in your company’s strategic reviews, and just because your customers are receiving their orders in a timely fashion, what are the actual costs in getting this to them?”



101 Warehousing has developed a series of questions for business leaders to focus on and continually challenge:

  • Am I getting the best deal from my customs broker or freight forwarder?
  • Am I over stocked?
  • What is my stock turnover?
  • Time to market?
  • Is my warehouse set up correctly?
  • Am I using the correct freight or courier company?
  • Do I actually know my department’s true profit?
  • Should we be outsourcing?




Family Business Australia offers ‘top five’ tips

FAMILY businesses face challenges that other businesses do not, according to Family Business Australia (FBA) – but they also have many advantages over other businesses.

FBA Victorian and Tasmanian state manager, Alex Petersen said one of the primary aims of the organisation was to alert those operating family businesses to the opportunities available to maximize the unique advantages of family business – and overcome the disadvantages. That was a large part of the impetus for FBA joining Victorian Leaders as an executive member in 2016.

In fact, FBA has highlighted five tips to assist family business leaders through Victorian Leaders.

“Family businesses face challenges that other businesses don’t,” Mr Petersen said. “You have to focus on making sure that your business is healthy, and that your family is happy. 

“It’s not always easy to achieve, but we have some suggestions which may help.


“Wherever possible, leave work at work and home at home,” Mr Petersen said. “Learning techniques to be present in both environments will assist you to be more effective.”

According to FBA, another vital aspect in striking this worklife-homelife balance is consistent communication.

“Consistent communication is also important as family members need to be open and transparent with respect to their intentions, motivations and reasons during decision-making,” Mr Petersen said.


A key advantage of family business is being able to build trust with a family brand.

“Build trust with your family business brand,” Mr Petersen said. “Research has shown family businesses have an advantage as they are highly trusted and preferred by consumers and the public.

“This presents an opportunity to have the community identify with your brand.” FBA assists in this area through its Family Owned Australian Business emblem, which is available for use by members.


There is an added emphasis necessary on the management structure of a family business.

“Develop a robust, capable management structure,” Mr Petersen said. “Having systems in place for both business and family governance are some of the best ways to ensure the sustainable management and long term success of your family business.”

FBA recommends family business leaders use external advisers who can provide unbiased advice – preferably accredited, family business advisers.


Another advantage of family businesses is a long-term focus on succession – but this requires planning and cannot be overlooked or set aside.

“Review or develop a succession plan and ensure that it is endorsed by everyone – it should be a communicated process rather than a sudden event,” Mr Petersen said. “Ensure that you are prepared for the next generation, working into your succession plan what is best for your family business to ready the next generation of leaders.”


There is more emphasis needed on professional development in a family business environment, according to FBA, but there are also greater opportunities because of it.

“Engage in professional development,” Mr Petersen said. “Research shows family businesses that participate in professional development and build lasting support networks have a stronger foundation to maintain profit, continue to grow and to manage a successful transition of business ownership.”

FBA is a Victorian Leaders executive member.




Squirrel says to get tech systems harmonised – or go nuts

ONE of the most common problems facing businesses is the disparate ways information is assembled – and how that further complicates decision making.

Squirrel Business Hub, like its namesake, recommends gathering information resources together, utilising ‘the cloud’ as an intelligence hoard. 

Squirrel Business Hub has helped many companies find cloud solutions to common inefficient practices of re-entering contact information in different systems and using multiple spreadsheets owned by different people in a team to track information. Getting disparate information systems together empowers a business, Squirrel Business Hub founder and chief executive, Kylie Harker said.

“As founder of Squirrel Business Hub, I advise SMEs on cloud-based business systems,” Ms Harker said.

“I’ve worked with over 120 companies, and time and again, witness duplication of effort and inefficient use of resources. I recommend investing in cloud-based software so that you can integrate your systems and streamline and automate your processes.”

Squirrel teams often help businesses take the first step of implementing a customer relationship management system (CRM).

“While the benefits of a CRM are many, getting it to ‘talk’ to your other systems will take its usefulness to a whole new level,” Ms Harker said.

“Integration opens up a world of sophisticated functionality that can be leveraged to save time, reduce effort, eliminate errors and automate processes.

“Working together, your systems are so much more powerful than they are apart.”

One Squirrel Business Hub client, for example, was experiencing the administrative nightmare of invoicing in instalments.

After integrating the business’s CRM and accounting systems, the Squirrel team was able to set up a series of time-based triggers in the CRM, which automatically generated instalment invoices in their client’s accounting system.

Another client had no central repository for their client history and was constantly re-keying enquiries and booking information.

“We installed a new CRM, creating a central database,” Ms Harker said. “We integrated this with their Google Calendar, streamlining booking and scheduling, and with their accounting software, which enabled onsite invoicing and the flow of information to accounts (department) for reconciliation.”

Larger organisations are embracing digital technology, Ms Harker said, “and employing CDOs (chief digital officers) at a growth rate of 200 percent globally, reflecting the need for a proactive rather than an ad-hoc approach to cloud technology”.

The same technology is there for SMEs to embrace too, she said.

To make it easier for business leaders to ascertain whether cloud-based systems could benefit their businesses – no matter how small – Squirrel Business Hub has developed a “quick quiz” on its website that helps in making such decisions, Ms Harker said.