There is something very ‘full circle’ about Melissa’s story. Starting her career as a registered nurse, and then moving into business and law, she returned to the healthcare industry last year to open Just Better Care Gippsland.
Back working in health, she brought industry knowledge and chose an experienced team to support her in the venture. Today her business is going from strength to strength.
Melissa’s experience spans the business and government sectors. She has worked as a company director in healthcare governance and currently in banking, and taken positions in leadership development, insurance, education, federal and local government. But Melissa had a yearning, and it was time for a change.
“I was having a moment in my career when I was looking at where I wanted to be in the future,” Melissa said. “I’d worked with a lot of organisations – some great – and came to a point where I decided I wanted to build a workplace that I would be proud to work in.”
With a detailed understanding of the industry, and the strategy behind in-home-care, Melissa considered establishing her own home-support business, but said the process was complicated due to the necessary regulations and on-going updates to maintain the correct policies and procedures.
Melissa reached out to her own network as part of her research process. “I met with people and had a lot of coffees to find the gaps in the market,” she said.
She spoke to a few franchise arms but found that the majority lacked tailoring to an Australian audience, which wasn’t ideal for a prospective rural home-support office.
“But then I came across Just Better Care Australia and thought they were professional and responsive. They answered all of my questions and had a strong Australian arm to their business which I really appreciated.”
She signed the dotted line in July and began accepting customers in October last year.
Melissa knew that her business would start and end with the quality of its office team and Support Professionals and set out to find an experienced team that would align with the culture she wanted to create.
She said qualifications are important, but the right fit and values were harder to find.
“You can’t train people to be person centred, to be kind and to genuinely care,” she said.
Melissa believes in investing in her team with training, a thorough induction and rewards.
“Recognising the challenges and saying thank you is important, as is recognising milestones and celebrating with the odd glass of champagne!”
It’s this kind of attitude to business that sets Melissa apart – bringing her experience in industry and governance together with a founding knowledge in care, she had a clear idea of the type of business she wanted to establish, and the culture it needed to succeed.
“Who we are and what we believe in is important in these early stages. I don’t sign anything that is a detriment to my business. Too many people rely on us and I won’t put the business at risk.”
Trust is especially important as her business is based in regional Victoria. “Word of mouth and reputation is everything in a regional area,” she said. “It’s about being open, honest and delivering on commitments.”
“In regional areas, people value authenticity. You need to be in it for the right reasons.”
To introduce themselves to the community, the Just Better Care Gippsland team mixed with disability and carers networks and attended ageing expos and community events.
They spoke with groups to educate them on the NDIS, explaining the new system and how Just Better Care could assist families in working within it.
Months after opening, Melissa says the response from the community has been her biggest achievement yet.
“Positive feedback from the people we support, and the wider community reinforces that we are on the right track.” she said.
On return to her care origins, Melissa’s industry background has held her in good stead with the launch of Just Better Care Gippsland, but it is her ‘get into it’ attitude and the support of a great team that really helped her embrace the new venture.
“Business and legal experience is helpful but it’s not everything. It’s really about the people you surround yourself with,” she said.
“You need the right people with you on the journey – whether they are in the field or in the office. But probably more important is the ‘team’ you have outside of the office. Without the support, encouragement and understanding of my husband, daughter and family I could not do what I do.”
Find your dream career and make a real difference in your community, with Just Better Care. Talk to us about franchising opportunities in your area.