Bundaleer's new CEO Louise Roberts on rebuilding relationships

CHALLENGES AHEAD: Bundaleer's new chief executive officer, Louise Roberts.
CHALLENGES AHEAD: Bundaleer's new chief executive officer, Louise Roberts.

Bundaleer's new chief executive officer, Louise Roberts, says the organisation needs to rebuild relationships after a tumultuous few years.

In April, an independent investigator was called in to review corporate culture at Bundaleer, which is one of Wauchope's biggest employers with 250 staff. The chief executive, Gareth Norman left his post, and his job was advertised.

Mrs Roberts, who was acting CEO for a time, trained and worked as a nurse and has held senior executive positions in aged care and health for 20 years. She is excited about leading the organisation through challenges including the development of a new $30m 140-bed facility in Wauchope.

"I believe in what Bundaleer is trying to achieve," said Mrs Roberts.

"Bundaleer needs to be the light in this little local community for aged care services, and as a source of employment and training, for the local community.

"It also needs to be a light for people needing social supports, especially carers looking after their loved ones with dementia. We have a carers support group, with trained volunteers.

"I think Bundaleer lost its way over the last couple of years. We still have a long way to go. At the moment, we are concentrating on our staff and making sure they feel supported in the workforce and are receiving the education that they need.

"We have challenges. We need good networks with our general practitioners and allied health staff. We're in the middle of rebuilding those relationships. We are improving our relationships with the Wauchope and Port Macquarie Base hospitals.

"We are also heavily investing in the care that our residents need, where the residents direct their care. We have put in for some grant money to start a residential aged care men's shed."

Mrs Roberts says the demographic of this region means we have a high level of people with dementia.

"I think, looking back, aged care is a very difficult industry. The funding is very, very small and the needs of the older generation are quite big. When you have those pressures on you, at times things can go wrong. Things were going wrong.

"As I have told all the staff, you can't climb Mount Everest in a single leap. We are taking it step by step and the most important thing is that we bring our residents and our staff with us on our journey. We work together.

"The goodwill among the staff to do the right thing by the residents is very high, and one I'm very grateful for," she added.

Before coming to Wauchope, Louise and her husband took a two-year break to build a house and travel 49,000 kms around Australia, which she says was wonderful, especially the Kimberleys.

Originally from the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Louise has six children and three grandchildren scattered around Australia, Canada and Sri Lanka. Her husband is a retired naturopath and they live off-grid in the bush and love it, after the bustle of Sydney.

When she's not working, Louise loves to surf, go bush walking, and grow her own vegetables.

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