Forty years ago, the delivery of aged care services across the country left a lot to be desired. Don Neander helped change that by opening Southern Cross Care’s first ever aged care home at Holland Park in Brisbane.
Don is stepping down this year from his role as CHA Director and board member and chairman of Southern Cross Care Queensland.
“I had been a member of the Knights of the Southern Cross for ten years and we saw there was a real gap for people needing aged care, so we built our first 48-bed home in 1978. I picked out beds and crockery and was very involved in its design,” he reflects.
“I also helped out with fundraising efforts afterwards such as weekend fetes and cleaning windows, because back then there was not much government funding.”
Fast forward to 2020, and SCC Qld now operates five retirement villages and 11 aged care facilities and also provides community services across South East Queensland, supporting senior Australians in their own homes. Don says the reason SCC aged care facilities have flourished, not just in Queensland, but across Australia, is because its mission is putting people first.
“I am 80 and still fit and healthy, but would definitely feel very comfortable about going into one of our facilities. That’s because from the CEO, to the board, to every staff member, everyone here is focused on looking after people and serving them.”
Being a not-for-profit is also key to the success of SCC. “If you didn’t make a profit, you wouldn’t exist. But, the profits we make don’t go into the hands of shareholders.
They go back into the homes so we can continuously improve them.” He is stepping down in his official roles as CHA board member and chairman of SCC Qld, but will still work closely with SCC. He’s got no plans to slow down and still works three days a week with his day job as a self-employed carpenter and builder. Long may that continue.