This year, IRT at Home, a pioneer and now market leader in home care for seniors, celebrates its 25th anniversary. Over the past quarter of a century, IRT at Home has expanded from an initial pilot with only 20 customers to an extensive network with over 300 employees delivering consistently high quality care to almost 2500 seniors in three states.
“IRT at Home has changed a lot in the last 25 years, but our core values remain the same,” says Raelene Lewis, IRT at Home’s Illawarra Business Manager, who has worked with the business from the start. “It’s all about the customer. They come first.”
One of the most significant changes has been the deregulation of the home care industry in February 2017 and a shift to Consumer Directed Care. This industry reform has driven an influx of new entrants into the home care market.
IRT remains one of the longest-standing community owned not-for-profit aged care services, distinguishing it from many new market entrants, 70% of which are for-profit businesses, including US franchises.
“A lot of providers started up overnight and won’t still be in business two years from now,” Ms Lewis says. “But IRT is an established and experienced provider with a strong case management team and well trained care staff. We’ll still be here providing great services well into the future.”
IRT at Home prides itself on its relationships with its customers, developing rapport and collaboratively producing individualised care plans that suit their financial circumstances.
“We all go the extra mile every day, and we are highly respected in our communities,” says Debbie Turnbull, IRT Shoalhaven Customer Relationship Manager. “Because our customers live in their own homes, we are their visitors and we need to be very focussed on their individual needs.”
One long-term IRT at Home customer, Mrs Hill, has lived in her home since 1960 and has been an IRT at Home customer for 15 years. She remembers that she chose IRT because they were the only provider that offered a double package to cover both her and her husband.
“Whatever crops up, I know I can ring someone and the staff will advise me or help me. They help with the house and take me shopping, which I can’t do on my own,” she says.
“I only have to ring up and request transport if I need it. My sister-in-law is with a provider where transport isn’t included, so she has to call the council and get a bus.
“I am given a foot massage every morning to get my circulation going. When I was sick, I asked for a glass of orange juice and the carer squeezed a whole bag of oranges for me by hand!”
IRT at Home’s CEO, Gy Wallace, is proud that IRT was well prepared for the recent industry reforms and market deregulation.
“Investing in modern business systems, re-organising the business to ensure we continue to maintain trusted relationships with our customers and actively selling and marketing the wonderful services we provide has meant the business has continued to prosper since deregulation,” Mr Wallace says.
“We have the best staff in the business and more and more customers are choosing us.”
Twenty-five years on, IRT at Home continues to enable older people to live at home safely and independently, allowing them to maintain control over their lifestyles, treating them with dignity and enhancing their overall quality of life.