New age home care model

Simon Lockyer, Five Good Friends,

John Deeks: Today, we’re speaking about ‘Five good friends’ with Simon Lockyer. Simon is a co-founder of Five Good Friends, which is a pioneering social enterprise that allows people to receive support and care while they age happily and safely at home, connecting to the friends, families, and lives that they love.

Kaye Fallick: I thought it was time that our members understood what Five Good Friends does because what you’re delivering is new age home care. Are you able to tell us, in a nutshell, the way your service works?

Simon Lockyer: Yes, so as you said, we’re a home care provider and we’re designed to help people live happily, safely and independently in the home communities they love for as long as possible. What’s important about our services is we enable friends and family around those people needing care to be actively involved as well.

Kaye: So this obviously leads us to ask you, why is this called Five Good Friends? Is there something here we need to understand?

Simon: When we were looking at the name and starting the business, we started by asking a different question and that was: Why do people live happily and wonderfully long and engaged lives in their homes and communities they love?

And that question took us on to a research project and we found the Blue Zone Study. That study has identified pockets around the world where people will regularly live to the ripe old age of 100 and beyond. And when they examined those communities, they looked at all the things you’d expect like diet and exercise, but they went deeper into the social construct behind those communities as well.

What they found is that the key determinants to a long, happy and healthy life was friendships or, more importantly, remaining connected to those friends. And on average, these people would have between five and six good friends that they would travel through life with. We thought the name, Five Good Friends, had a beautiful alliteration to it and really reflected what our business should be about. Not so much about the service and the care, but keeping people connected.

John: Simon, as you said, it’s a business so therefore, how do you monetise what you’re trying to do?

Simon: We have private clients who pay for the health and care in the home privately. We’re also an approved provider of government-funded home care packages so people who have been assessed and approved for those can engage Five Good Friends. We’re also registered in the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) in select service type areas. So people who are participants of the NDIS can also choose Five Good Friends.

Kaye: Which leads us on to older people needing to have a home care package. If they want to receive your services, not as private members, does that involve some kind of assessment?

Simon: Getting a home care package can feel a little daunting to people, but really it all starts by contacting My Aged Care on 1800 200 422. They will step through a series of questions then an assessor will come out to their home (that’s around a 90-minute interview). That is just to determine the level of help and support needed. A family friend can be with them the whole time, because you should feel comfortable. A lot of people think that these sorts of things are the beginnings of residential aged care. In fact, they’re not. Having these types of assessments in the home are all about ensuring you can continue to live safely and happily in the home.

After the assessment is done, you’ll receive a letter from the government advising what level package you’ve been approved and where you sit on the national waiting list.

John: So, there’s no cost for that assessment.

Simon: No there’s not a cost to that assessment, it is important to plan for it early though.

It can take up to six weeks to get an assessor to the home, then two weeks to complete the assessment and write back to you. And, as many of your members will have heard, it can take up to 12 months then for the funding to actually come through and the package to be assigned to you.

So, it’s important to think about these things early.

Kaye: We’ve found out that many of our members are planning for later life care earlier than they once did. Because clearly you need to be financially prepared for what happens.

Now can we move on to the service aspect. What kind of services do people look for in their homes, Simon?

Simon: It’s quite a wide variety. It can start with really simple things like a little bit of domestic help, which can include cooking and washing or gardening. Then as needs change, you can go to more clinical types of care or assistance with medication, management of wounds, etc.

The important thing is to start early, and in fact, there’s a really great study from  Macquarie University which found that for every extra hour of help you give in someone’s home when they first  think that they need help, you’ll reduce their likelihood of entering residential aged care by six per cent.

Also important is social interaction and engagement with the community, so by putting your hand up and saying, ‘Look, I think it’s time for me to ask for some help’, this is a really important thing to do to maintain independence in your home for as long as you want.

John: Well, if you’d like to know more, visit their website.

Kaye:  And I would also like to mention that Five Good Friends is supported by one of our preferred partners, APIA. 

Simon: Yes, we are really grateful to APIA for their support, and they have a wonderful team! Quite often they can be the first point of contact to identify that someone might need a bit of extra help and support, simple things like they’ve determined that they need to hand in their driving licence, things like that. We have formed a wonderful partnership where we can guide people through that process.

John: Simon Lockyer, thank you so much for speaking to us today and good luck with Five Good Friends