ECH Incorporated (ECH) is one of the largest integrated providers of retirement village accommodation and ageing care services in South Australia. ECH’s purpose is to promote self-determination and enable people to live confidently at home and have the best possible life as they age.
The ECH programs and services are provided by more than 800 staff with a wide range of skills. The ECH team of home support workers, health professionals, maintenance teams, administrators and volunteers are committed to enabling people to live the best life possible as they age.
The regulatory environment and funding models associated with the aged care sector in Australia have been under significant review in recent times and as a result, seismic shifts are occurring, and business models are being challenged to ensure the sector remains viable and continues to deliver what its residents and stakeholders are seeking.
ECH recognised this and identified that a significant shift in strategic thinking and approach will be required to continue to thrive in the sector moving forward.
ECH engaged Checkside in mid-2022 with a view to supporting the organisation with a significant shift in strategy and operating structure to address the changing landscape.
Change was already underway, with board evolution occurring and the successful appointment of a new Chief Executive in Claire Scapinello. These changes provided the catalyst for a new outlook and delivered the desire and impetus to completely revisit the organisations approach to strategy and strategy execution.
The first engagement task involved engagement with the Board to ensure clarity and alignment existed at Board level. Working closely with the Chair and Chief Executive, this process provided the ability for the executive leadership group to engage with the Board through facilitated workshops to ensure both parties could hear views directly from the other and ensure real alignment was present.
Armed with aligned feedback from the Board, Checkside facilitated a series of workshop sessions with the Executive leaders to develop a fresh 5-year plan with clear deliverables and accountability defined for the first 12 months. These facilitated group workshops, supported by Checkside’s process and IP, drove engaging conversation amongst the Executive team which allowed Checkside to document and capture the strategic drivers and direction for ECH. The outputs then went through a thorough edit process to produce the finalised new 5-year plan, which was subsequently endorsed by the Board.
Checkside then shifted engagement focus to assisting ECH to cascade this plan into the various divisions and functions of the organisation by developing functional and divisional plans with the functional leaders that are intrinsically connected to the overarching corporate strategy. We worked closely with the Executives and their teams to develop these plans, with the primary purpose of creating a framework of clarity, alignment and accountability to support the execution of the strategic plan.
During the entire engagement, Checkside has provided regular 1:1 coaching support and guidance to the Executive Team, to ensure plans are well developed, learnings are maximised and tools/processes are embedded into the organisation. This has assisted the Executive Leaders to ensure they are well set up to deliver on strategy execution and both they and their teams feel supported throughout the process.
The final focus of the engagement has been to weave in capability building for the broader leadership group of ~38 Executives, senior managers and managers through the design and delivery of a tailored leadership development program. This work, alongside monthly 1:1 Executive coaching, remains ongoing.
ECH now have a clearly articulated and completely revamped 5-year plan that the Board has endorsed and that the Executive are fully engaged with (and starting to execute). A summary of this strategic plan and future direction was also successfully launched to the entire business at a group wide function.
The plan outlines a significant turnaround in financial performance (from running operating deficits to surpluses) which will support the ability to provide a greater volume of better quality services moving forward.
The plan also clearly articulates how ECH will lead the way in terms of next generation aged care providers. They have a clear focus on three main areas:
The 5-year plan places ECH at the forefront of sector thinking and the revamped business model and structure of the organisation allows it to continue to sustainably develop and grow a forward facing business underpinned by a healthy financial platform.
ECH also has a clear accountability framework for strategy execution and shared ownership of delivery into the strategic plan from all the Executive Team. The team is aligned, energised and well set up for success.
Finally, ECH has recognised as part of the strategic plan the critical importance of its people and continuing to invest in them. As a result, the broader leadership group of executives, senior managers and managers are all receiving leadership development alongside other training programs. This will support the leaders at ECH to develop skills and capability to be able to lead well and engage with and support their teams to help deliver on the strategic objectives.
Alignment with Checkside Values
One of Checkside’s core values is “Make an Impact” and the work ECH does in the community and the people involved with ECH fit squarely into this bracket. The number of people they are impacting, both directly through their aged care services and indirectly for family and friends of ECH residents and clients is incredible.
In addition, the work Checkside has been able to do with Claire and the Executive team is having a big impact on the organisation and its ability to deliver into its Purpose more effectively. This provides a very rich and impactful engagement that aligns strongly with a core Checkside value.
Chief Executive commentary:
Chief Executive Claire Scapinello said “Checkside have done and continue to do a wonderful job. They have enabled us to envision our 5-year strategy and challenged us through the process to tackle strategy differently and create an accountability framework that is tailored for ECH.”
“Checkside’s support along the way has assisted me to focus on the key strategic pieces and provided a solid sounding board for me as a new Chief Executive in the organisation. They have also provided great support for our Executive team – many of whom are new and adapting to the new approach to strategy as we progress. The Executives are engaged and feel well supported which has been an enormous outcome”.
“Finally, their ability to provide flexible, tailored solutions has meant we now have a great fit with ongoing Executive 1:1 coaching being combined with leadership development for our broader leadership group. The ability to provide a direct connection between understanding the strategy, supporting the ongoing strategy execution, and building leadership capability across our team provides a very powerful multiplier effect for us.”