Our ionMy team interviewed Martin Riddell, Continuous Improvement Manager at ADSSI, to find out more about his experience in the care sector and learn some valuable lessons and insights into the present and future of the industry.
In this heart-warming interview, Martin shared wonderful stories, including how he has found true fulfilment working in the care sector and has been supported by the most caring team at ADSSI.
Enjoy the read!
ionMy: Hi Martin, how are you? I hope you are doing well.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with the ionMy team about your professional life and your journey through the aged care industry. If you could start this interview by telling us how you started in the care sector?
Martin Riddell: Principally because my wife had joined ADSSI some six months earlier and she was so enthusiastic about the way they work and the ethical approach they had towards their staff and clients.
I had recently finished a project of a large IT implementation and wanted to join a company whose values matched mine. I have a genuine love of my community and believe we should always act with integrity. ADSSI reflects those and other values perfectly.
ionMy: What industries were you supporting before?
Martin Riddell: The most recent one was in the engineering sector. I supported a company that builds bridges, dig tunnels and other engineering projects. It is an incredibly innovative and complex company. I also consulted for the financial sector and other industries.
I will tell you an interesting story from one of the projects I worked on, before working at ADSSI, which is related to the topic of technology adoption. It was a very complex company, and when we were looking for an IT provider and first started discussing it, I produced a wish list of functionalities. It was 864 lines long. And from that list, we were able to narrow down from 208 original potential companies to the IT for us to about 12.
As we were having demos, and investigating what those businesses could provide us, the very top thing on my list was a spirit of partnership. Based on that, we were able to select a supplier, and it was all looking fantastic. And as we went into implementation they, unfortunately, turned out to be hopeless. And the reason I’m sharing this is that it is a completely different scenario from my experience with ionMy.
Whereas I don’t know about the sales side from ionMy, I never got involved, but I have that spirit of partnership with those people who support us. Samara and Michelle (both from ionMy) are just always there, always. And you know, that’s particularly reassuring, given my recent experience, it’s really refreshing.
ionMy: I understand that you have been in the care industry for about 8 months. How has this transition been? And what are the main lessons have you learned so far?
Martin Riddell: Uhm, it’s been interesting. For about 30 years I’ve been working as an independent consultant. Most of my clients have been in what I’d call hard-nosed businesses, such as banks and building societies, engineering, railways and automotive.
And essentially the culture is very different. There you shout, you give them instructions on how to do it and you expect it to be done. The hierarchy in those industries is absolute.
But now working in a new environment it’s an entirely different dynamic altogether. It’s all about supporting and caring and considering other people. And understanding that they may not be ready for the change that I want to apply. And that’s been a really tough start for me.
ionMy: So you have transitioned from a completely different type of culture and how their day-to-day operations run.
Martin Riddell: Absolutely. And at ADSSI, the people are just so incredibly supportive, positive, helpful, caring, it really matters. That’s really rewarding.
I’ve never worked with a bunch of people that are so caring. They want it right for everybody and they’re prepared to put in the legwork to make it right, and it’s really quite moving.
ADSSI has taught me to be gentler in my approach, particularly when introducing change and that you need to help people to understand the need for change. They have taught me to listen better, I think they are slowly making me a more rounded and, frankly, a better person.
As I get older, I get more and more community oriented. And my community is everything to me now.
ionMy: Obviously, there was a challenge of adjusting yourself and your way to operate, but any particular industry challenges you have witnessed in this role?
Martin Riddell: ADSSI has been immensely successful and growthful over the past few years and have merged with three other similar organisations under the ADSSI banner. Being a not-for-profit organisation ADSSI have had to use the systems already in place for Client Management.
The consequence is that they have a number of disparate systems that don’t communicate with each other.
Add to that the fact that internal management systems need to be kept separate from client management systems and you have a highly manual series of processes. Being a Quality and Compliance Manager, which is where I started with ADSSI, is highly demanding on your time. Add to that the additional pressure of managing COVID-19 recording and reporting and, frankly, there is no time to begin to integrate the systems to save the time spent on doing what must be done.
ADSSI have had the foresight to create a new role for me this year, Continuous Improvement Manager, and to bring back our previous Quality and Compliance Manager, Ken, who is a great Q and C Manager! This will give me the time to be able to begin to integrate the systems we use to facilitate and improve new ways of working and reporting. This move is nothing short of genius on ADSSI’s part, and brave, too! They are investing a significant sum to ensure the manual, time-consuming, burdensome, non-value-add work we must necessarily do can, where possible, be automated. Few companies I have ever worked with have been this innovative. ADSSI, frankly, is one of a kind!
ionMy: What is a day in your role as a manager at ADSSI Limited?
Martin Riddell: Typically, it starts with a walk on the beach with my wife and our dogs. Since we both work at ADSSI and have fairly similar goals and approaches, this usually involves a bit of planning for the day.
I work from home a lot, largely because of COVID-19, and the day starts when I get to my home office. I usually have a number of reports to work on and always have a lot of emails to deal with – typically 100-150 daily, of which about 60% are COVID-19 related at present. ADSSI uses ionMy as its principal management tool and I spend a lot of time updating records, adding incidents and so on. I also run and create new reports, depending on the needs of ADSSI staff and, of course, the business needs.
ionMy has not been adopted across the entire ADSSI business, yet, but, with typical ADSSI insight, we have just invested in implementing the ionMy Compliance Portal to rectify this issue. Adoption of the Compliance Portal will mean that all our people will be able to access the information they need and complete many tasks much more easily. As we move forward, we have plans in place to use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to help our people to enter information just once, reducing the workload and opportunities for errors.
ionMy: In your opinion, what is the most significant barrier to technology adoption in the care industry?
Martin Riddell: That’s an easy one but, actually, there are two: money and time.
As a not-for-profit, ADSSI simply does not have the funds to launch new cutting-edge technology. That said, they have chosen well in ionMy. Whilst it is not the most omniscient system available it is fit for purpose and, in thirty-plus years, I’ve never seen such amazing support from a software provider.
The time issue stems from the money issue. ADSSI, like other not-for-profits, has to really manage its cash flow and expenditure. In consequence, we run a tight ship. That ADSSI has provided us with the opportunity to allow someone to focus purely on Continuous Improvement is almost revolutionary and underpins their commitment to improving the lot of their clients, staff and volunteers.
To give you an example of the challenges, when I started out and I was probably getting 30 emails a day just about COVID.
Two weeks ago I had 152. In one day. So there’s just a massive amount of administration. And with the COVID challenges, this also means that there are a lot of changes with the reporting requirements, so time has been really critical.
Additionally, I think there is a will to adopt technology, but sometimes the confidence isn’t totally there. Some of our people, particularly out in the field are not terribly well-educated digitally. And they do what they do brilliantly, which is caring. So there is an element of that.
ionMy: Do you have a story of how the use of technology positively contributes to your role or work?
Martin Riddell: When I first started with ADSSI, one of the first things I had to do was to run a twice-weekly report to provide the Department of Health and the business with up-to-date data on COVID-19 activity. Using ionMy we would run a report and then spend about two hours each time we ran the report manipulating the numbers to obtain the detail we needed. With help from ionMy and a bit of Excel wizardry, we managed to reduce the time to finalise the details to just three minutes. By deciding to issue the report to the business at the same time as we did to the Department of Health, we saved even more time. I’m just under four hours a week richer, now!
On another front, as we begin to use APIs to integrate the outputs from our disparate systems more time will be given to many more people.
The use of the Compliance Portal will ease the time and stress burdens on almost five hundred staff and volunteers, giving them more time to do what they do best: caring, really caring for older people and those who are disabled in our communities.
ionMy: When it comes to governance, risk, compliance and quality, do you have any examples of how ionMy creates positive changes in your professional life?
Martin Riddell: ionMy’s reporting allows ADSSI to create the reports we need to understand our business better and, with better information, we can make better decisions. One of the things we have found is that the Support Team at ionMy respond incredibly quickly to any questions we have and are willing to “go the extra mile” to ensure we understand. Instead of selling us fish, they are teaching us to catch them for ourselves!
ionMy: Being part of leadership roles for so many years, which skill do you think is essential for every care professional?
Martin Riddell: There are so many! ADSSI’s front line staff and volunteers leave me awed with their genuine- wish to really care for our clients. The skills they have are wide and varied but there are a couple of things that are, frankly, endemic at ADSSI.
■ Respect for everyone around you
■ Openness and honesty
■ Listening – to the spoken and the unspoken
■ Clarity and alignment of vision
ionMy: The year just started with lots of challenges. One of them is to attract new talents and professionals. Do you have words of support or encouragement for those who work or are thinking of entering the care industry?
Martin Riddell: This is a biggie for me. I have worked for forty-odd years in a plethora of industries, on four continents and twenty-seven countries. I have earned a lot more in other roles. I’ve been instrumental in promoting young people lacking in confidence but with the heart and the passion to make a difference. I’ve worked with people at the top of their game, known globally.
But the one thing I have never achieved is true fulfilment.
Since I began working with ADSSI, I can now add the fulfilment milestone that has always eluded me. And I know what I do contributes to the greater good.
It is an absolute honour to be able to contribute and help the team to do their jobs better and take some stress away, particularly, in this Covid-19 This environment.
To give a beautiful example, very recently, I had a message from one of our customer service team saying this lady was on the phone and one of our workers had damaged her swing door.
So that’s a problem that we needed to address. We didn’t know exactly what had happened, and if in fact, our worker was responsible. But I called the lady and said, “let me send someone from my building servicers team to have a look at it and see what we need to do”.
So they turn up and they come back to me with the cost for repair. And who’s paying for that? Well, we couldn’t prove it was the care worker but the lady seemed pretty genuine when she talked to us. So I said, we pay for it. The client’s perception is more important than who did what.
After it was all fixed, the lady contacted me and she said something along the lines of “I have never been so impressed with the way in which people have treated me. The fact that you found me to make sure I was OK, I felt completely supported.”
You can’t buy that.
It’s an absolutely amazing environment to work with people who truly care. That moves me and I would never give that up.
ADSSI is one of ionMy clients, and our team has been proudly supporting their staff and operations. ADSSI for over 30 years has been supporting people to remain living independently and safely in their homes and communities. They love what we do and it shows. Thousands and thousands of local people have been supported by hundreds of local staff through practical services, wellbeing programs, allied health and home modifications, throughout the Central Coast and in Northern Sydney areas.