Rosewood Care has taken a new approach to the business of being an aged care provider. Mario Zulbreti, the CEO of the group, says that it is this approach and their deep understanding of the issues and desires of their clientele that truly sets them apart from the crowd. They have had a long history of providing aged care in the area, being originally founded under the name League of Help for the Elderly Inc in 1953. At that point their operational goal was to provide housing and facilities for aged people who were either chronically ill, or generally frail. In doing this, they helped increase the quality of life for their residents. As a bonus, this also benefitted the community by alleviating some of the pressure on the healthcare system by freeing up beds in hospitals.
By 2002 the League of Help had progressed to a point where they saw that a name change was necessary in order to better reflect their operations, and Rosewood Care Group Inc was born. Along the way Rosewood became a pioneer in many different aspects of aged care, Zulbreti points out. They were the first to provide domiciliary care and home help in Perth and brought Meals on Wheels to the area on a trial basis, a program that was ultimately expanded to a full five day service in 1955. This was not just a first for Perth, explains Zulbreti, but for all of Western Australia. By 1957 the League, as it was still called then, also had a hand in creating the first Senior Citizen Centre in Perth, situated on Cleaver St West, and continued to be supportive of the seniors in their community at large. While they expanded their involvement, they also expanded their services. By the 1970s they had taken on an opportunity that presented by the Perth City Council. This opportunity eventually became the Lakeview Lodge, which waslater renamed Rosewood Care Leederville in 2009.
A history of care
“The most important thing about Rosewood Care – to my mind – is that we have been providing care to Perth’s senior citizens for 54 years now in a variety of roles,” says Zulbreti. “We really pioneered a lot of aspects for the senior citizens in Western Australia, but this was before the councils stepped in and started to provide these services.” In the face of that takeover of responsibilities they divested themselves of operations that were taken on by the community and government. They then began to focus their attention at expanding their home and residential care. “We now have two premier sites in the inner city, one in West Perth and one in Leederville,” he says. There are many features that make these locations attractive, says Zulberti listing them with enthusiasm. “They are very attractive not just for their access – But in the terms of access it is not just beneficial for the residents, but it is beneficial for their families as well. If they have relatives that wish to visit them it’s easy, because they are at the junction of many arterial roads coming in from various directions.” He says that the culture that surrounds them is very cosmopolitan, and one that is still coming into its own. “They exist at a hub of social entertainment, as well as giving them access the cultural flavours of Perth.” He says that future planning for the area promises to make it a very dynamic centre of activity, to which he thinks that the benefits are enormous.
He says that with their Leederville location they have more than adequate transportation – but again it is not just about that one aspect that makes the location appealing. He thinks that those living in their residences like to see a vibrant community around them as well as one encouraged within the living spaces themselves. “We are in the process of building, or more accurately redeveloping, our Leederville into a 120 bed residential aged care facility. This is going to be a very upmarket accommodation,” he says. “With the West Perth Site we are in the process of master planning, and in the near future we’re looking for joint venture partners to develop senior apartments and lifestyle accommodations that will interface with the general community.” This means that they will have onsite restaurants, medical centres and other facilities that will directly link to the community that they are building. At the same time, they are looking to make sure that they develop the communities so that these services are available as in-home service as well. “It is going to be a multi-layered residential and retail/commercial space,” he comments.
Taking a different view
Rosewood does not treat their facilities as old age housing, nursing homes, or even retirement villages. Zulbreti sees these terms as limiting and inaccurate. In their communications and marketing material they refer to hotel services and head chefs. This is not something you will see anywhere else. “Our head chef came second in the Seniors Competition in Hobart last year. We are very focused on lifestyle. I don’t like using that word, because it tends to be over used. I just like to think that we are creating living environments. We do not treat it like a place that people come to vegetate, there are many options. But the overriding thing among all that we offer is care,” he stresses. “Providing good care – be that supervision or medication or the whole range of things that go on – is a way of enhancing people’s lives.” He says that this method of care giving can been seen in a very positive light. “I don’t think that residential care should be dismissed as some terrible way of living, in fact it is an opportunity and just another option rather than a life sentence.”
Zulbreti stays away from calling their facilities retirement villages, again because he feels that the term is over used and misunderstood. “We aren’t going to use any of those stereotypical terms, it is just accommodations for seniors. The style and nature of the apartments will be very upmarket,” says Zulbreti, speaking about the West Perth site which will have similar accommodations when completed. Zulbreti drives home the point that they are facing people with more options than they historically have had. It is only through appealing to this new group of retirees, who have more disposable income than ever before, can they hope to be a viable option for living their golden years. With their long history of pioneering in the industry and the care that is required, it is no doubt that they will be successful.