10 Lessons from the Last Decade: What I Wish I Knew When I Started Wise Care

agedcare ageing blog Aug 18, 2021

It feels like yesterday, but in fact it was a decade ago that I started Wise Care. I was about to turn 30 when I quit a full-time management role to follow my passion in improving mental wellbeing of the elderly. Establishing a health service was a major assessment task for my Masters’ degree, MBA Health Service Management and Corporate Governance, and I invented a care model for frail elderly Australians to access psychological support through home visits. I did well in the assignment and the feedback from my lecturer motivated me to turn the assignment into reality. This is the back story of how Wise Care was established and today I am one of Australia’s most experienced aged care psychology consultants, a published author, multi-award winner and sought-after presenter. 

‘I thought I had it all figured out – but in fact, looking back I took a huge risk.’

I left the financial security of a stable job, with no clear pathway to securing work and not much experience in working with the ageing population. I had a lot of passion and vision – to improve mental wellbeing of elderly Australians with declining physical health. But was that enough?

In August 2021, I celebrated my 40th birthday in isolation with my young family in Sydney. It was very different to my 30th birthday celebrations with my friends enjoying cocktails and fine finger food. Back then I was completely oblivious to the journey ahead, the milestones and challenges I would encounter. Today I have a decade of experience in the aged care sector as a clinician, researcher and consultant in mental health.

I wanted to use this opportunity to share my top 10 lessons from the last decade to reflect on the experience and to motivate others who recently started to work in aged care or for the more experienced professionals to resonate with some of my experiences.


Back in 2011, Medicare only funded up to five counselling sessions in a calendar year for elderly clients in residential care which made it difficult to improve clinical outcomes and cover my expenses. Today, the rebate is for up to 20 sessions and the claimable amount has doubled. It was tempting to give up working in aged care and find a job in another field, but my vision for better access to mental health support for older Australians as well as my values helped me push through the challenges. Stick with your commitment, things always work out.


Initially I was entirely focused on the clinical service delivery and offered services in residential care and home visits for elderly clients whose mobility was limited. After a short period, I started to offer group sessions which were highly effective and won several awards. I reduced my clinical load during my doctorate and now I offer industry-endorsed workshops, clinical consultancy and supervision for mental health professionals. My roadmap definitely changed but the values and vision has remained the same – better mental wellbeing outcomes for elderly Australians. Your journey is unique and you need to honour it.


No matter what you do, not everyone will like you and for me accepting that took a while as I would question what I did wrong. Through supervision, mentoring and ongoing professional development I have learned to accept it as part of the journey. Every day you will get someone who unfollows you on social media, unsubscribes from your emails and that is okay. We connect and disconnect from people for various reasons, do not take it to heart.


Health professionals have no training in sales and marketing. No matter how good your product is you will need to have a sale conversation at the end of it. Some will think you are expensive, others will say it is cheap and there will always be some who will assume your service is free and be totally blown away that you charge a fee. I was questioned about the $10 gap I charged in the early days between the Medicare fee and my fee. You will need to be upfront about how you work and the fees involved if you are running a business. My dad used to constantly remind me ‘you are not a charity’ and this sentence helped me a lot in the early days. 


Connections can be formed quickly and easily. I am writing my second book with someone who I met through a chance encounter. One of my closest industry friends is someone I only met in person once and today we speak over the phone every week. I have made friends with people all over the world through conference presentations and sharing the same passion.  


You will cry because you watched someone die. Goodbyes are hard no matter how professional the relationship is and you truly never know when the last time you see someone will be. I witnessed two deaths during my pregnancies and I feel honoured to have been there to support those individuals. You will develop a ritual to deal with grief to protect your own wellbeing and pay respect to those who are no longer with us.


Developing award-winning programs, making TV appearances, featuring in papers and much more. A number of those opportunities will come randomly and unexpectedly, and they will always reflect your work and passion. Some may seem trivial to others but so important and so close to you and your heart.


Despite having completed 12 years of university, I continue to learn and read every day. I complete online workshops, buy books and listen to podcasts. Ongoing education helps to improve the quality of my own workshops, enriches my programs and ensures I am up to date with the latest evidence-based information. But it is important to keep working while you are learning, it is a dual process – do not stop working and do not stop learning. You are ready for the next step and be confident in yourself. 


Working for yourself is full on – juggling clinical work, administration, marketing, advertising and getting more ink for the printer are just some of activities you may do in an average day. I have always had some help, either with administration or bookkeeping. I am an expert in my role but not in everything else. Delegating work to others has helped me free up some time and become better in what I do.


I have had several mentors over the years and their wisdom has helped me enormously through the journey. Each mentor brought their own experience and insight for which I am so grateful. I highly encourage you to get a mentor, external supervisor if you are a mental health professional or to join a mastermind. This has been the best investment that I have made.

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