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Earlier this week I met and chatted with new AnchorAcademy Leader Akanksha Bernard. I asked her about what she sees as important as the aged care reform agenda continues to roll out, what she sees as the biggest challenges and how she thinks her new role at Anchor can have the biggest impact on providers. 

  • Akanksha, you have been working in the aged care industry now for almost 9 years, starting as a new grad and working your way to General Manager of an aged care home. How has your journey been so far, and what has contributed to your success? 

The last 9 years have been an incredible journey for me, both professionally and personally. In my time in The aged care industry, I have witnessed the sector grow and evolve, especially over the last few years. Times are changing, and we are seeing a lot more regulation which I believe is a positive move for consumers. I have been fortunate enough to be able to develop my skills with the support of the brilliant and inspiring people I have worked with. I have had great mentors throughout my career who have pushed me to be where and what I am today.

I am enthusiastic, dedicated and passionate about teaching and mentoring. My journey so far has enabled me to have opportunities to be there for the elders in our society and enable them to live a full, happy and comfortable life. 

My Bachelors of Nursing Degree, along with my Masters in Business and Health Administration, has allowed me to apply and practice the skills that I have learned. My previous experience as a Clinical Facilitator in India – teaching Nursing students, has allowed me to really apply myself in the Aged Care Industry, not only in a clinical or management capacity but also in a teaching capacity. Training and education are the foundation for providing safe and quality care and underpin the skills necessary to be a leader and bring about change. 

  • When you completed your Bachelor of Nursing, why did you choose Aged Care or did it find you? 

When I came to Australia in 2013, I was lucky enough to be part of a family (including my Husband and my Mother-in-law) who were also already working in the aged care industry. This motivated me to continue pursuing a career in healthcare and apply it specifically to the aged care industry. Being able to make a tangible difference to the lived experience of older Australians is an absolute honour. 

  • Are there any standout achievements that you are particularly proud of in your aged care career?

My progression throughout my aged care career has been an achievement in itself for me. I started as an Assistant in Nursing and worked my way from there to become a Registered Nurse, a Care Manager and General Manager. Of course, there have been many small personal achievements throughout that journey.  Regardless of my achievements, I have always felt the urge and motivation to continuously improve myself. I have learnt from my experiences that one should always give yourself credit where it is due, and you should always celebrate your achievements, even the small ones.

In my previous role as General Manager of Sydney-based aged care home, the team and I achieved 42/42 in a re-accreditation. This was a very proud moment as it was a measure of our collective performance and compliance across the Aged Care Standards and our commitment to providing consumers with safe and quality care.

  • How do you see aged care environments transforming in the future, and what elements do you feel are of particular importance?

Change is challenging in any industry. There is so much activity happening in the sector with the rolling out of AN-ACC, the Transitional eNRMC, which has recently been announced, not to mention the rest of the reform agenda that sits across the five pillars including; home care, residential aged care services and sustainability, residential aged care quality and safety, workforce and governance. Embracing information, understanding good governance, keeping up to date with education and staying close to your consumers will enable a best practice environment. 

Having come from managing a home, I can fully appreciate and acknowledge the pressure, daily challenges, and tension between managing the business as usual, supporting consumers, and ensuring the team is across all the compliance requirements and understand their responsibilities. Its a balance, but with the right structure, principles and culture in place, organisations can achieve success and long-term sustainability. 

  • Anchor Excellence has a significant market share in the aged care industry with clients Nationally. As their new Anchor Academy Lead, what will your role involve? 

My new role at Anchor Excellence will be supporting the online education platform Anchor Academy. Over the years, I have focused on training and leading the workforce in aged care. An aged care leader’s day-to-day life presents many opportunities to learn, grow and develop both personally and professionally, and share knowledge to further benefit the industry.

  • What attracted you to Anchor Excellence?

The reputation Anchor has developed over the last almost four years, the programs and education that have impacted over 40% of the sector nationally and the vision – “Leaders enabling Leaders”. Anchor has quickly become the trusted partner and go-to for aged care providers. 

All of the above motivates me to bring my best self to work every day and apply my knowledge and experience to support the sector and my colleagues. 

In addition, earlier in my career, I was lucky enough to be mentored by Dr Irene Stein and Carla Beheram. So to work alongside them was an opportunity that I ran towards with open arms. 

  • What are you most looking forward to in your capacity as the AnchorAcademy Leader?

Building relationships, developing connections and making a difference in the aged care industry. Growing the education and learning culture in our industry, changing the perception and encouraging more clinicians to follow a career in aged care. 

To connect with Akanksha regarding AnchorAcademy up and coming education, please email akankshabernard@anchorexcellence.com.au or call us on (02) 8610 1950. 

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