Family is very important to Clare Irvine. Her family, as well as the Uniting AgeWell family.
The Operations Manager, Allied Health heads-up a team of 30 staff including physiotherapists; exercise physiologists; occupational therapists; massage therapists; speech pathologists; podiatrists and allied health assistants.
And Clare juggles managing the teams based at four AgeWell hubs – Forest Hill, Northcote, Oakleigh and Hawthorn – with the Mornington Peninsula soon to be added into the mix. The team works mainly with clients whose services are funded through the Commonwealth Home Support Programme (CHSP).
“Women are marvellous, we can do anything,” Clare says. Including, in her case, balancing a demanding career with raising a three-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter.
“It’s all about prioritising, creating a work-life balance and also about self-care – realising you need to look after yourself to stay top of your game,” Clare explains. To this end she takes time out to go to the gym or go running every day.
And she cannot speak highly enough about the values and culture of Uniting AgeWell. “I feel supported every step of the way, United AgeWell is flexible and has invested in me. This fosters huge loyalty. They appreciate me and I certainly appreciate the organisation. And from a management perspective, loyalty and good relationships lead to staff retention, so it’s a win-win situation.”
So where did it all start?
Clare was raised in Melbourne and studied to be a physiotherapist at Melbourne University. After she graduated, Clare worked at Northern Health, then as a paediatric physiotherapist at Yooralla and later at the Royal Children’s Hospital. She grew interested in leadership roles, and in 2014 did a Masters Degree in Health Management through the University of NSW. She got her first management role at Melbourne Eastern Private Hospital, where she was appointed Allied Health Manager.
In the meantime, Clare’s parents were getting older, and she found herself increasingly drawn to the aged care sector to ensure she could help them on their ageing journey.
The arrival of her child stirred things up at the end of 2018, but Clare took things in her stride at started work at Uniting AgeWell when her son was six months old. She took six months maternity leave again in February 2021 after the birth of her daughter.
“Uniting AgeWell is an incredibly supportive organisation,” Clare says. “They build me up, empower me and allow me to be the best that I can.”
Clare is quick to admit that she is both ambitious and driven. And to this end, she empowers her team to be the best that they can. “By understanding their career goals and what they want to achieve, I can get the best out of people.”
She says the pandemic brought about a number of valuable learnings. “It forced us to question the way we had traditionally done things before, and to think outside the square. And in that sense it certainly brought about a huge amount of innovation.”
Clare says they have increased the amount of training the staff undertake, and the professional development pathways for individual employees have been identified to ensure their career aspirations are being met.
The main challenge she faces is finding enough time to do strategic decision-making while coping with the hands-on running of the business each day.
Clare is passionate about the future of aged care – especially in an organisation as go-ahead as Uniting AgeWell. She is on the Research Committee for Home Care and works closely with the research team in translating research findings into practical solutions to help older people stay at home safer and longer.
In the meantime, she intends staying in aged care, which she says is a rapidly growing industry.
Clare is emphatic that Uniting AgeWell employs the best person for the job, regardless of gender.
“The organisation is very inclusive, there’s support for all staff regardless of their gender, ethnicity or age. They see the person – nothing else. And it’s great!”
International Women's Day 2022
While the success and impact of our work relies on all our people thriving, on International Women’s Day we reflect on the opportunity we have to create career pathways for the women we employ, and to celebrate their journeys and the daily impact they each make through their work.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #breakthebias. Linked to a day that has historically championed women’s rights, we are invited to consider the intersectionality of bias and how, in order to consider ourselves beyond bias, means that equality of opportunity exists for all who identify as women.
Consider a career at Uniting AgeWell
At Uniting AgeWell we believe that every person has the right to age with dignity, to have genuine opportunities to make old age a meaningful part of life, and to have real options in their later years.
As a leading not-for-profit provider of aged care services in Victoria and Tasmania, our 3,000 staff are committed to exceeding standards in the provision of quality aged care and strive to make a difference every day.
We offer a range of career opportunities with roles across health care, administration, hotel services, maintenance and more.