<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none;" alt="" src="https://px.ads.linkedin.com/collect/?pid=656659&amp;fmt=gif">

 

 

As part of our five-part of AGED CARE series on the podcast, we are today talking to Nigel Faull on the subject of ‘’How to be a successful leader in AGED CARE’’. Nigel is the former CEO of Star Aged Care Living with over 20 Years of experience in the AGED CARE industry. He is has had held Senior Leadership roles at Blue Care is now the Managing Director of Faull Consulting Group.

Don't forget to subscribe!

**Transcription of the episode**

Nigel Faull:

Particularly in aged care, there's a lot of change going on. There's a lot of uncertainty. There's a lot of journeys that we haven't gone down before that we're going to have to journey down. So, leaders need to have the courage and to go and make those hard decisions and support their staff to make those hard decisions and think outside the square.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Welcome to Secrets of a Workforce Leader. We are on a quest to uncover the best workforce secrets, stories and strategies from the world's most successful, creative and innovative workforce leaders. Each episode, we will be chatting to our guest leader about everything to do with leading, engaging, and managing people at work. We will do our very best to get them to reveal their top workforce secrets.

This podcast is brought to you by RITEQ. Simple, flexible workforce management solutions for a digital age. RITEQ assist medium to large organizations increase their profitability and employee engagement through innovative roster optimization. This is Secrets of a Workforce Leader and I'm your host, Dave Kenyon, marketing manager at RITEQ.

As part of our five part series on aged care, we're talking today to Nigel Faull on the subject of how to be a successful leader in aged care. Nigel is a former CEO of Star Aged Care Living with over 20 years experience in the aged care industry. He's held senior leadership roles at Blue Care and is now the managing director of Faull Consulting Group. Welcome, Nigel.

Nigel Faull:                         

Dave, it's lovely to be with you.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Now, do you want to just start off with telling everyone a little bit about your background in aged care and what got you first interested in the industry?

Nigel Faull:                         

Well, you know what, I didn't really have an interest in the industry because I unexpectedly applied for a role that led me to the aged care industry. So, let me just explain a bit more. After 23 years of working in New Zealand and the logistics and the chemical industry, which included work with some of the ... one of the big Dow chemical players, I moved to Queensland, applied for a role with a recruitment company. They put me forward for this role. When I got there, I found out that it was in aged care. Not only that, it was actually also working for a not for profit and also was working for a faith based organization actually Blue Care.

 I said to them, "I know nothing about aged care and I know nothing about not for profits, and I've never worked for God before." So, I was sort of just working out where I fitted. They said, "That is great. That's exactly why we want you." I said, "Look, I don't really have a problem working for God because I have a brother who's an archdeacon. So, I'm familiar with all that stuff, but I just needed to make sure I've got a place here." You know what? Looking back, it was one of the best decisions in my career. I love the industry.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Fantastic. So, you're working for God. I love that expression. So, what are some of the personal attributes you need to have to be a successful leader in aged care?

Nigel Faull:                         

Well, I think some of these age roots also go across industry generally and I will going to couple that with aged care. Honesty and integrity are just a given. Absolutely a given. You need to demonstrate that in your actions, be transparent in the actions as a leader. I think you have to do that actually whatever you do in life, but that's absolutely important. With the current environment of royal commissions with the spotlight on aged care and there are some aged care failures happening as we speak unfortunately not far from where I live, naturally this is really important.                                             

The other thing is it goes without saying, you need to have a really good robust governance system in the organization and be committed to it as an individual. I mean that at every level be it in the operational level and at the board level.

The second thing that I think is important for leader is courage. Particularly in aged care, there's a lot of change going on. There's a lot of uncertainty. There's a lot of journeys that we haven't gone down before that we're going to have to journey down. So, leaders need to have the courage of their convictions and to go and make those hard decisions and support their staff to make those hard decisions and think outside the square, and to be innovative. Courage is being innovative because it's going where you've not gone before.

The other important factor I think in leadership is passion and commitment. You absolutely have to love it. So in other words, love the industry. As I said earlier on, I fell into the industry, but what I didn't realize that dealing with the age and dealing with the elderly brings a satisfaction that if you haven't experienced it, you don't know about it. It really is fantastic to be involved with the elderly. Based on age, I'm moving into that sector. So, I really wanted to make it as good as possible.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Oh, I think you're a long way off, Nigel.

Nigel Faull:                         

I think and I spoke of innovation before. I think innovation is really important. Walking in the other people's shoes, understanding your customers, your residents, your clients, and the families who are really ... it's a big decision to handover someone you love to an organization, whoever they may be, to not look after them for a week like in a hospital, but look after them potentially for the rest of their life. It's a huge privilege.

The last thing I would say about a leader that's key is probably collaboration. Having the ability to bring people together, the ability to give them the right for your staff to lead and that's taking a risk because you step back and you watch them sometimes make mistakes and being there for them. So, I think all of those are very important aspects of what is a good leader.

Dave Kenyon:                   

A question I have is when you give people that autonomy and they do make mistakes as they invariably will do, it's about how you manage that and talk and the conversation use to talk about those mistakes without making them feel like it was something that was terrible.

Nigel Faull:                         

That's a very important conversation, Dave. That's probably ... firstly you stay close enough and you should know your staff well enough that you know the signs. A good leader can read body language and so you know when ... I used to know when you walk in the morning and you talk to one of your managers or whatever, you know in a very short space of time if everything's going fine or whether they've actually got something so pressing on there that they actually don't want to talk to you because it's just all encompassing. You pick up on all that. So, if you've given them something without taking a risk and they make a mistake, it's important to take them down and give them some positive feedback about the mistake they made. Hopefully, if you're doing your job right, that mistake should not be catastrophic.

In other words, if they go and lose your $10 million, I would suggest that as a leader or a CEO or whatever, there's something wrong if you weren't aware that that was coming up to happen. So, you're partly involved, but what it is is to get to those mistakes before they happen to get too bad and put them on the right path and so that they learn, so that next time, you know what, they have the confidence to make a better decision.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Fantastic. What are some of the daily rituals that you have to help you manage at your peak and then manage your managers?

Nigel Faull:                         

In a word, discipline. I'm not overly crash hot at it, but I work at it and I've had some good people around me that have helped me do it, particularly PAs over my time. The sort of things that I found that if you like my rituals, well, I tried to three times a week at least preferably four have a 30 to 40 minute walk in the morning and that enables me was good exercise, but enables me actually clears the head, it sets the day up, does a lot of things.

In terms of before going to the office, I tend to quickly look at my emails just to make sure there's nothing dramatic that someone's waiting on for me to respond to. Usually your staff know you well enough that if there's something that they really need in a hurry, they will text me. So, I sort of build that into my relationship with the staff and with the people.

When I'm at the office on my way to the office, I make an effort to briefly touch base with the staff around me and in particular the reports that are to me on my way to the office without sort of making it too long because it's really important to acknowledge people, and I think leaders don't realize that when the CEO of the organization or a leader of the organization acknowledges them, that it makes a huge impact on their day, because I remember that when the boss used to do that to me. So, I've tried to bring that into my daily routine and be there for them.

Then what I do is I don't ... if I can have no scheduled meetings till about 10:30 in the morning because for me that's my best time for thinking. So, I normally have something planned to work on during that time or some thinking or some planning, whatever that might be. So, I try to give me myself that space and after 10:30 is when I'll start having the meetings I've got to have, start doing the phone calls, that sort of thing. At least once or twice a week in terms of the operation of the business, I use to try and what I call do my walkabout.

I'd normally schedule that in my diary, put an hour in there and I'd walk about with no necessary agenda or they may have been one or two things I wanted to have a look at. It also gave me the opportunity if I did it around meal times to do a couple of things. When I could see my residents if they were out having lunch, that was important and see families who were coming around and equally an opportunity to see staff and I having lunch to have a more informal chat or catch up. So, I try to do that, which gave them the opportunity to really hopefully talk to me about anything.

At the end of the day, my other ritual was before I left the office, I had a look at the balance of the week and the next day. Then because I normally had a half to three quarters of an hour at least in the car that enable me to shutdown so that when I got home I was comfortable that I was in control and I could start doing family stuff. So, that was the routine that worked. I still try to work on it today.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Great, fantastic. What are some of the ... or three things that you've learned about people from leading teams?

Nigel Faull:                         

I have great faith in people. That when they get out of bed in the morning, 99.9% of people come to whatever role they're doing and they actually ... you're starting out to want to do the very best for that day. There are very few people and you try to identify them obviously. There are very few people that come along and says, "You know what? I don't want to do that." That's not what people about. So, they're wanting to do their best, and I think they're looking for inspirational leadership. So, you encourage them to be innovative. You encourage them to be what they're good at.

The second thing is I'd talk about is bringing young people into aged care was a particular delight for me. Particularly in the last five years as we moved along the technology journey at quite a fast pace, that was something that encouraged young people to join aged care. We had a significant increase in young people that actually were working for us over that period of time. The other point I would make and I'm probably moving a bit past the three, but the other point is listening. Really important and I have to practice it sometimes to listen to what they're saying and to hear what they're saying and not be in too much of a hurry to think about the answer particularly if they've said four words and you think, "Oh, I know what they're going to ask me and the answer is X, Y, Z." So, really had to do that. It's interesting in meetings I sit out and sometimes I find that that doesn't happen very well.

The last thing is feedback. Give them the opportunity for feedback, both ways. Feedback on what they're doing, how they're doing, and for you to give constructive feedback just like what we had earlier in this conversation. Giving them the opportunity to get feedback from you in a constructive way and it's important how you do that. It's equally important to not dodge telling them the truth to say, "You know what, we didn't do, I always use we, we did not do too well last week when this happened." Knowing full well that they were probably in charge of it, but at the end of the day, it's a joint effort this time.

So, you're saying to them, "Look, we haven't done too well. What could we have done better? I was really horrified at X, Y, Z." and tell them. So, I think that's feedbacks really important.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Good stuff. So, what is the key to getting the best out of a very large workforce? I know at Blue Care they've got over 10,000 employees.

Nigel Faull:                         

Communication. Communication is really key. Today relative to 10 to 15 years ago, we've got technology that is absolutely makes that job much easier. When you have a large workforce, it's really important to ... you can't talk to everybody personally, so you need to use every medium you can but equally use the people that report to you that are in turn managing the workforce and down the trick, you need to make sure you support and help them in their role. That can include when they've got some, I say it could be tough decisions or some good news as well. I mean not always in challenging times to actually be with them sometimes physically if those meetings with their people, to communicate and keep your staff involved in what is happening in the day to day operation and to feed down that information.

Another important key I mentioned technology is having a good workforce management system that enables them to have access to all the things they need to do to do their job well. Rosters, policies, announcements, podcasts, what works, all of them.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Sure, sure. Yup. Employee self service where they can apply for leave, where they can know their shifts, all that sort of stuff. Yep. We obviously find that at RITEQ that really does increase employee engagement when they've got all that technology at their fingertips. That's obviously really important for your employer brand.

Nigel Faull:                         

I actually do agree. I think it is really important because the staff member feels confident, they know what they're doing, they've got ... if I've got a shift next week, I know they've changed it, whatever. If they know exactly what they need to do, guess what? They're going to be happier, better carers do the job well, a great demonstration for the organization.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So, what were some of the strategies you implemented during this time?

Nigel Faull:                         

Well, I think as I mentioned earlier, I really focused on supporting the management and that is really critical. It was really giving them that support, giving them the opportunity of your time particularly ... and I talk about when you have a lot of people, my time at Blue Care, I had at one stage up to 13 sites of which each of those sites may have had up to 250 people. So, there's absolutely no way that on any sort of regular basis you could speak to every employee. That was just not going to happen. So, you had to carefully look at the way that you spend your time both that on those sites and how you spend that time communicating for other ways the email and alike.

That was taking the opportunity when you knew you were going to get a good opportunity to better have involvement with as many staff as possible and also giving them opportunity, be at social events, be at meetings or whatever where you gave yourself time so that staff could have opportunity to talk to you. I know that's easier said than done, and the bigger the organization, the tougher it is to do that.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Absolutely. Absolutely. Now, what was some of the unexpected challenges you had as an aged care leader? What kept you up at night?

Nigel Faull:                         

First of all, financial sustainability because aged care is a tough business. When you consider that staff cost are 60 plus percent of your care revenue in a residential and for home care and disability, it's more than that. So, when you look at that relatively, that's a huge cost. So, it's really important that operationally you're managing it.

The other area I guess that used to keep me up at night was I guess staff issues. When you had particular issues with staff that weren't performing or that they were struggling about how best ... we've had this conversation earlier on, but how best to have that conversation to motivate them and as a leader, have I done everything possible to support that person and is it that they're just not in the right role? This is quite different thought process to when you have a staff that doesn't do the right thing and you have to dismiss it. I hate to say it, but that can be an easier situation, because once you've ticked off the boxes in terms of what you should do there, it's a matter of having the courage to do what needs to happen. Developing staff is a tougher one.

I think and the last thing that used to sometimes keep me up at night was probably some of the difficult situations that used to arrive around client's families that would impact on the clients. When you in aged care, you're not only taking on your client, you're taking on the whole family. You take the family and it is exactly becomes their home. They come in and they sometimes own it, which is great provided it's positive, but it can be challenging. The family dysfunctional issues come forward, and so sometimes I've had to get involved in churning a way through that to ... because at the end of the day the client or the resident is utmost in my concern, not a particular family member. So, that were some of the key issues.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Wow, I haven't actually heard that one before where you sometimes need to get involved in families that are dysfunctional, that are orbiting around the person in your care, the aged person. Yeah, the elderly person. Interesting. Now, couple of more questions in terms of this. Obviously, skill shortages of nurses and carers are reported constantly in the media, and we're obviously heading for a larger skill gap than we've even got now due to the baby boomers moving into the elderly years. How do you achieve a higher quality of service through the highest staff engagement, higher retention levels? How do you do that?

Nigel Faull:                         

Well, I'm very passionate about technology generally, but in my view, you've got to have financial sustainability to run the business better, employ the staff. Technology is going to be key, absolutely key, in order to have better care and higher staff engagement. Let may explain that a bit more. You need a human resource system that gives you the ability to manage your staff at all levels of the organization on a day to day basis for the facility manager and the direct group, the direct supervisor but further up the organization, so they can look at how obviously the organization is running and are able to support their managers out in the field if you like at the facilities.

Having a great human resource system that does all of that and as we talked earlier, enables the staff to know exactly what's expected of them in terms of where they need to be, policies, all those things, gives them a confidence level to do their job and enables management as well to see the red flags quickly and to be able to start looking at what the trends happening and in turn support and assist to make changes so that the business stays on track. For that matter, important that you've got also from a human resource point of view, that you've got people with the right skills, with the right knowledge doing the right caring. That will result in better care, more time to care because the technology is totally supporting them through all their operations of their job. They're very important.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Absolutely. Absolutely. We certainly find that at RITEQ that's one of our core skills, core things that we do is getting the right person at the right time with the right skills to the right location. The right skills is really core, isn't it?

Nigel Faull:                         

Look, it absolutely is. It's even further than the skills, David. It's actually knowing in a situation that a carer X really works really well with the resident Y or a client Y, and that what we want to try and do, it's all about relationships. So, we want to make sure as much as possible can we match those two up because they really understand that it works well. You've got to have a good system that can enable you to do that. At the same time, there's a balance in that. You need a balance of other staff, you know what's going on and also there. So, it's not just about skill, it's about that whole person, the whole resident, the whole staff member.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Absolutely. Absolutely. Now a recent study of around 1,000 providers by aged care specialists, accounting firm StewartBrown found that more than 40% of aged care providers are losing money. So, with the average earnings per bed per day to being $3.20, are you able to comment on how aged care can increase its profit by increasing visibility of labor costs?

Nigel Faull:                         

Absolutely, Dave. This as I mentioned earlier, when you consider the high percentage that care costs are of the business, you need to have a system that enables you to transparently see across your business at all levels what is happening in your management of staff. That includes rosters, that includes costs, that includes agency costs. Agency costs, we will know is double the cost of in-house. Also, understanding permanent and casual. You've got your permanent employees that have usually been with you a long time, probably know the business better than some casuals and certainly the agency. So, you want a system that can enable you to manage that and focus on having your own staff to give you the best care possible.

Having also a system then enables the staff to have access to all them information do their job is equally important. So, that is key. If you can't manage that, there is no way that you're going to get your organization back in profit. They are 40% of the organizations plus that are not making what I call a profit and loss profit. That means a profit including depreciation, not cash flow, including depreciation. So really important to know what's happening there and that is absolutely critical.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Fantastic. Let's just imagine that you could travel back 10 years and give yourself some advice about what it's ... a secret, some sort of advice about how to be a leader in aged care.

Nigel Faull:                         

The best learning I have that took me a little while to get my hands around, which I wish I had known much earlier is ... and it's a bit like having your own personal MBA is I'd say it, is actually learning from your peers, learning from other organizations. I might add that there are some aged care organizations that ... or not some, there's a lot across Australia who are doing fantastic job doing incredibly innovative things. What I used to do is I used to research them out. I used to look at who was the leaders, particularly in the areas that I was looking at wanting to improve the business. I'd ring up whoever I knew and if I didn't know them, I just call up the CEO and most times they answered my call. I would ask them to come and have a look at it, have a look at whatever they were doing that I was interested in.

Once I saw something that I thought, "You know what? That's what I want to do." I would then go back to my operation, I would choose a champion, a potential champion. I'd see one of my staff members there, they have a look at it, bring them back and if we decide to implement it, they became the champion of the project. That did more for me personally in terms of me learning and in terms of our business than any other one thing. I wish I knew that 30 years ago, particularly as a 20 year old, I wish I knew that.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Wow, that's some terrific advice, Nigel. Yeah, that's great. That's great. Well, thank you so much for being on Secrets of a Workforce Leader, Nigel. Where can we find out more about you?

Nigel Faull:                         

It's been absolutely my pleasure. I'm on LinkedIn, Dave, or very happy for anyone to call me on my mobile which is 0417-198-473.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Beautiful.

Nigel Faull:                         

Thanks.

Dave Kenyon:                   

Thanks, Nigel. Cheers. Bye.

Nigel Faull:                         

Thanks Dave.

Dave Kenyon:                    T

Thank you for joining us for today's episode of Secrets of a Workforce Leader. If you like what you heard today, please rate and review the show. It helps people to find us.

New call-to-action