Fifty years of bringing Christ’s love to Tasmania’s elderly

By Catherine Sheehan

For 50 years, Southern Cross Care Tasmania (SCCT) has been seeking to demonstrate the love of Christ by providing a range of aged care services suited to the needs of the people of Tasmania.

SCCT was founded in Tasmania by the Knights of the Southern Cross in October 1972. The founding Knights built a group of independent living units in Launceston so that seniors could live within the local community while also remaining self-sufficient.

Today SCCT is the largest not-for-profit aged care provider in the state, employing over 1200 staff and operating nine residential aged age facilities and 13 retirement villages. In total, SCCT cares for 700 residents, providing close to 700 units, and 240 home and community care packages catering for 100 clients.

As a Catholic organisation, an important component of their services is the pastoral care they provide to clients.

“We are very much proud of the fact that we are a Catholic based organisation,” SCCT Chair, Stephen Shirley said.

“We were created by the Knights of the Southern Cross, a distinctly Catholic organisation. We take the Catholic ethos of looking after people, wherever we find them, and treat them according to the Gospel.”

A major change in the last 12 months was the changing of SCCT’s constitution to permit non-Knights to be members of the governing board. This allows women to be voting members and also facilitates the appointment of members with the necessary skill sets to guide and direct the organisation. While 50 percent of the board is now female, Mr Shirley pointed out that it was very much a case of selecting the best people with the right skills.

“We have chosen them on skill. It just so happens to be, in many instances, [that] the best person for the job has been a female.”

Another exciting development in recent times, CEO Robyn Boyd explained, has been the implementation of the Montessori principles of care across all of SCCT’s residential care facilities for those with dementia.

“It’s about meaningful purpose for people, allowing them to contribute to the community in which they live,” Ms Boyd said. Programmes are tailored for each individual, with activities which create a sense of meaningful purpose and allow them to participate in and contribute to the community.

Already, clinical data is showing results from the Montessori approach, Ms Boyd said, including a reduction in falls, weight maintenance, improved wound healing times and a reduction in the use of psychotropic medication.

“It’s awesome… If someone’s got meaningful purpose they’re not sitting there wiling away the hours of the day and experiencing monotony. They’re actually engaged and contributing, and in a respectful and dignified way.”

To mark SCCT’s 50th anniversary several events have been planned to take place during Southern Cross Care Week from 21 to 28 October, including a Mass, cocktail party and dinner, and the launch of a book detailing SCCT’s history by writer and historian Dr Nick Bodie.

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