A pioneer of personalised care

In the week that aged care formally transitioned to a consumer-directed approach, we profile home care trailblazer Sue Mann, who has spent three decades progressing such a model.

In the week that aged care formally transitioned to a consumer-directed approach, we profile home care trailblazer Sue Mann, who has spent three decades following such a model. 

Sue Mann - Feb 2015
Sue Mann

The rapid pace of reform is the current challenge for the sector, says community care pioneer Sue Mann.

Over three decades of running and developing her business, Mann says they are the biggest changes she has seen.

The founder of Sue Mann Nursing and Community Care (SMNCC) has been at the forefront of the industry since starting her business in 1984.

She ran it out of the family home in Wamberal for 23 years where it grew to 80 staff, before opening up an office in Erina for 27 office staff and 130 field workers.

SMNCC has transitioned from the family home to a family business. Son and business partner Andrew Mann entered the business in 2004 and is now managing director. Daughter Brooke Cummins joined in 2013 as marketing and communications manager.

While the vast reforms affecting government funding, service models and competition are challenges for many in the sector, Mann is not concerned.

“With our fantastic infrastructure and staff I don’t see the changes as a challenge. It is exciting. We are thriving on it,” Mann tells Community Care Review. She singles out consumer directed care, which she says is aligned to the model they have always had.

With the motto ‘personalised care by nurses who care’ Mann founded the business because she was unhappy with care delivery in the acute system where she worked since entering nursing school at Gosford Hospital aged 17.

“I didn’t like the way I could see patients being cared for,” she says.

The catalyst was a 42-year-old patient named Ross, she recalls, who was going for a bowel resection.

“I was sitting beside his bed… he was scared out of his wits. I was talking him through the whole journey. The sister in charge came and berated me. I had a real go back at her.”

Mann says she wanted to look after her patients her way, particularly around palliative care, which is one of her specialities.

Working in the field “looking after the veterans with palliative care and wound care” has always been her passion and she misses having a case load, she says. However, Mann has always remained connected to the coalface. “I am still head of the operations side of things… I still get involved with any complex clinical issues or any complex family-related issues.”

Her most important role is mentoring staff, says Mann, who chairs all staff meetings and tells stories from over the years to keep the culture alive.

While Mann says her organisation is well-prepared to meet the challenges of reform, she is concerned about the introduction of the CHSP, particularly the changes to assessment, which are undertaken by the Regional Assessment Services since July. SMNCC has always done its own assessments and looked after clients through their programs and that initial assessment is imperative, she says. “I would not like this organisation to become a service provider only; that we don’t have this whole holistic body around it.”

She is also concerned about quality if the market is opened up as Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield has suggested, she says.

Another passion of Mann’s is being audited; in the last six months they have had successful Department of Veterans’ Affairs, department of Social Services and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) quality management system audits, she says.

Mann says her greatest reward is making a difference in people’s lives and giving them the opportunity to remain living in their homes.

“It is about feeling so much part of the community and helping people stay in their region, around their friends and their family.”

Similarly, Mann says they are committed to remain regionally focused as they expand.

She counts strong relationships and partnerships with GPs and specialists key elements for her success, and her mother and son Andrew as the two most influential people in her life. “The business would not be what it is today without Andrew. There is no way in the world. I was too big on being a nurse. That’s what I am – a nurse, who has just moved into management,” she says.

This is where Mann wants to stay. “I would love to have another 30 years ahead of me doing what I love,” she says.

This profile appears in the May issue of Community Care Review 

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Tags: consumer-directed-care, person-centered-care, sue-mann, sue-mann-nursing-and-community-care,

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