Mission Critical

“Our vision is to be at the centre of integrated care and look after people in different phases and stages of their lives. We can do that because we have public and private hospital services, home-based care services, and now a very large presence in residential aged care.”

The Catholic Not For Profit’s 2021 Healthcare was the culmination of a two-year strategy to grow the organisation’s aged care and home-based care portfolio, says its National Chief Executive Officer, Martin Bowles AO PSM – and further growth is on the cards.

Calvary surprised many in the sector last April with its bid for ASX-listed Japara Healthcare and its 50 aged care homes and five retirement villages.

But for Martin and his team, the successful acquisition – after fending off a rival bid from fellow Not For Profit Bolton Clarke – was the end of a two-year journey to increase Calvary’s aged care footprint.

“What was clear to us from a mission and business perspective, is that the aged and home-based care sectors are a strategically good fit,” he told SATURDAY.

“We knew we had to have more scale in this space.”


Creating an integrated model of care

The former Secretary of the Federal Department of Health from 2014 to 2017, Martin joined Calvary in late 2017, and since then, the National CEO has worked to put patients, residents and clients at the centre of Calvary’s thinking.

“We have developed an organisational growth strategy and moved to an integrated regional structure across our hospitals, aged care homes and our home care offering,” he said.

“Our mission is about being there for others, and we want to put the person who we are caring for at the centre of our thinking. This is behind the move to integrated care as well, because we can support people’s care needs across multiple phases of their lives.”

The Japara acquisition was also centred on building the organisation’s scale to address the increasing demands on aged care providers.

“You do need to have size to be able to meet and exceed these demands,” Martin added.

The acquisition has now taken Calvary’s workforce to over 18,000 staff and 1,200 volunteers across the business.

Martin says that there was also a good match between the mindsets of the two organisations.

“As a business, their value set is similar to ours,” he said. “Just because they are an ASX-listed company doesn’t mean they don’t have the same sort of care vision.”


Retirement living “part and parcel” of growth plans

While the focus is now on the integration of the Japara portfolio into Calvary’s business, the organisation remains open to further acquisitions in the future.

“You never say never in this business,” said Martin, adding that this appetite for future growth includes its portfolio of 14 public and private hospitals.

Retirement living also forms part of Calvary’s wider strategy, with Japara’s villages doubling its independent living portfolio from six to 11 independent living communities.

The provider is currently developing a new concept at the old Bethlehem hospital in Caulfield South, 10km southeast of the Melbourne CBD, which will operate under the co-located care model with independent living and residential care alongside a new sub-acute hospital.

“We’re trying to build a real village concept at Calvary Kooyong in Melbourne so it’s all part and parcel of our integrated care model,” said Martin.


Line between home care and residential care to blur

Looking ahead, the National CEO agrees with Ingenia Chairman Jim Hazel’s prediction that retirement villages will be offering residential-level care within five years.

“I think you will see a blurring of home care and residential care over time,” he said.

“People will want to be cared for in their own home more than they are today.”

Martin also expects that Calvary’s diverse portfolio will help them to stay competitive in the future health and aged care market, citing their ‘My Home Hospital’ virtual care centre in South Australia – a joint venture with Medibank – as an example.

The digital platform allows people to be cared for at home for a number of acute issues, with access to remote monitoring technologies such as pulse oximeters, blood pressure cuffs, and electronic thermometers that link to a tablet and are monitored 24/7 by a team of clinicians.

“On the back of My Home Hospital, we have developed another virtual offering, ‘COVID Care at Home’, which allows us to monitor COVID-19 patients in their own homes. This has operated in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia, which takes Calvary to every state and territory in the country.

“I do see virtual care growing. Our vision is to assist people living at home. From an aged care perspective, when people are unwell, how do you assist them in their home as much as you possibly can?”


Position your business to take advantage of opportunities

The National CEO also anticipates further consolidation as smaller operators try to meet increasing regulatory demands.

“At the end of the day, you have to understand your environment, make good, sound strategic decisions that position you as a business – and you should do this in Government as well – to take advantage of whatever happens,” he said.

“We accepted the challenge, took the opportunity and are now progressing with our integration journey.”


“In three years’ time I see us as a leader in delivering integrated care for the people we care for.”