“Thank for a great experience from the time I walked in the door”

Ellen-Maree Gadd
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Stephen Crowe

Managing Director

Ph: 02 8042 8907

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Artificial intelligence is transforming the world of work. Advances such as deep learning, new sensor technologies, and subsequent data availability, mean that computers can perform a much wider range of tasks than previously thought possible.

While we may be getting used to the idea that automation will render many current occupations obsolete, many of us still struggle with the idea that artificial intelligence can perform more human tasks.  But that’s exactly what’s happening in the world of aged care. With the help of “more human” technology, older people will be able to stay in their homes longer, and lead more independent lives. This will also have repercussions on how aged care facilities are staffed in the future. As the industry incorporates new technology, new jobs will be created and old jobs transformed.

According to the Smithsonian Institute, new technological tools will play a huge role in helping the elderly to take care of themselves. From wearable devices that measure heart rate to remote-controlled robots that pick things up from the floor, older people will be interacting with technology in their homes in a variety of new ways. This trend is expected to start with the baby boomers who are now hitting their seventies, and grow with successive generations.

Of course, there are design factors to take into consideration. Elderly people may have misgivings about incorporating so much technology into their home, and usability and invasiveness are going to be top of mind. Sensors, voice recognition, and wearable devices are relatively non-invasive, and require little interaction with keyboards or other equipment.

In fact, a whole new startup industry has emerged in recent years specialising in developing new technologies to be used in the aged care space. Smartphone apps like Lifewatch V that keep elderly patients in touch with their doctors between visits simply by holding a finger over a sensor, robots that take them through light stretching exercises, and intelligent virtual assistants like getAbby that remind people to take their medications are poised to play a huge role in elderly patient care. This will give them much more autonomy, and increase the length of time people remain at home.

So what’s this going to mean from an aged care facility staffing perspective? Will machines take the place of human aged care workers?

Well…..Yes and No.

Over the next decade more and more manual tasks will be performed by robots, for example, robots that assist people to get out in and out of beds and chairs without third person assistance will improve the independence of many mobility impaired people.  There are currently prototype robots that autonomously take blood. The quality of remote monitoring of people will dramatically improve through implanted sensors etc., reducing the need for visits for these tasks.

However, the increased use of AI in aged care, along with the massive amounts of data that will become available means a new kind of health professional will emerge, one that is able to understand data generated by this new technology, create a tailor-made health plan, and carry out any necessary action. Analysis skills may replace the ability to complete manual tasks like lifting. Also with less emphasis on carrying out manual tasks, care workers of the future may have time to become more engaged with patients on a personal level, improving the mental wellbeing of people under their care.

We are at the dawn of the practical use of artificial intelligence as we become more familiar we will find a myriad of ways to incorporate it into the aged care space. We can only surmise the skills that will be needed. But with so much potential for change, the sector is sure to offer some real opportunities in the future.



Workplace Stress: This isn’t an uncommon term. We have all been stressed within the workplace, but whether you thrive or crumble on the daily adrenalin moments is a different story.

Linking closely with my previous blog about effectively managing your time on a daily basis, for those that are in those situations of being in an environment that is likely to trigger stress, what are the best ways that you cope with it?

When I worked in the events industry, it became common practice to expect that the unexpected would happen. Not necessarily to predict that something will go wrong, but it certainly teaches you to respond and adapt to any changes that may occur with an event last minute, and in some cases problem solve on the spot if need be.

There were the times, however, when handling enquiries, liaising with chefs and the operations team, meetings, client calls and emails would get the better of you and this is where communication was a valuable tool, but often not enforced enough. Each team member that I worked closely with did not want to appear defeated or unable to cope with our assignments and we would often handle our stress in silence. This was often noticed by a tense atmosphere of mood swings, sending emails to one another instead of communicating directly, and late hours catching up on work from earlier that morning.

At least our manager had a keen sense at detecting this tense atmosphere and had individual meetings with us to establish what was really going on.

Working as a team environment however, one should never feel that they cannot speak up for themselves in times of stress, because the most harm that an individual can do to themselves is bottle up the feelings of anxiety inside.

Some of the feedback that I received last week from respondents were:

  • Have a good work life balance so that outside of work, you have something else to focus on which is meaningful to you.
  • Ensure you advise your managers and direct reports of the reasons why you are stressed.
  • Try to avoid it in the first place! Stop for 10 minutes and go for a walk whenever it gets too much.

A recent article on www.inc.com pointed out that once upon a time, society would work from 9.00am to 5.00pm. But now the demand for that has changed and in some cases individuals are expected to be available 24/7.

I have a friend that looks after the audiovisual side of events which as you know is quite a significant component of any event. While he works a set number of hours a day with setting up, testing equipment and operating for events, he is also expected to be on call after hours in the event that there are any ‘technical difficulties’. This means he can be called at any time, and often is called at any time. He is also on his phone constantly checking email updates from the events team to make sure he has the most up to date instructions for all upcoming events. But while the job will often encompass moments of stress, he loves his job and he doesn’t let the stress get the better of him.

Having said this, he will also know when to say ‘no’ or advise if a job cannot be completed at a set time due to another job that he may be working on. He is assertive and realistic when it counts as well as competent to achieve tasks.

This leads me to the multiple choice options of how you rated the ways to cope with stress in the workplace, to which the responses were as follows:

  • Avoid being a ‘Yes Man’: If you have a lot on your plate, do not add to the pile if you cannot do it in time. – 16% of you agreed to this, and I know I have fallen for this.

And the following three options were looked upon as the same level of importance at 54%:

  • Communication: If you are overloaded, make sure to speak up and ask for help
  • Effective Time Management: Setting realistic achievement goals for the day
  • Having A Positive Mindset: If overwhelmed, take a break, then come back to the task at hand with more clarity

I threw in the last option of a positive mindset because I have known so many people who have told me, ‘I don’t feel like getting up and going to work this morning,’ or ‘today is going to be a bad day I can just feel it.’ Now while we may have different situations at work causing us to feel that way, has this viewpoint ever really accomplished anything? How often if you look upon a situation negatively will the outcome be just what you thought it would be?

What’s to say that we can’t change the outcome of a situation for the better if we look upon it with fresh eyes and less bitterness?

To get to an even further point, if you are that unhappy with your employment, why are you staying in that current position?

Another website I reviewed called www.helpguide.org outlines the importance of establishing what is causing the stress in your current situation. You may not even realise you are stressed and showing the common signs by dealing with it in the following ways:

  • Drinking too much
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Procrastinating
  • Using pills or drugs to relax
  • Withdrawing from friends, family and activities
  • Taking out your stress on others (lashing out, angry outbursts, physical violence)

If this sounds like you, don’t be discouraged as there are healthy ways to relax and recharge:

  • Go for a walk
  • Call a good friend
  • Write in a journal
  • Sweat out the tension in a good workout
  • Savor a warm cup of tea or coffee
  • Get a massage
  • Enjoy a good book

If you find that time restricts you from doing these things, then perhaps you need to review my previous blog What are the ways in which you effectively manage your time?

A website called angelawilson.suite101.com outlines that one of the ways to cope with stress is to recognise the ‘Good Stress‘ from the ‘Bad Stress‘. Good Stress gives you a optimal amount of arousal to give you the motivation and focus to achieve a task (such as running a race, taking a test, getting to work on time). Whereas bad stress, when out of control, prevents us from feeling content and being successful in our daily lives. It releases nasty hormones into our bodies and has a negative effect on our health.

Some of the other coping methods include:

  • Decrease your body tension
  • Face your anxiety situations – doing those least favourite things first so that they do not build up into something worse when it could have been handled at the time.
  • Be truthful – when people are unhappy or struggling, you can often read it in their behaviour. If someone asks you how you are, telling the truth will better deal with the tension then saying ‘I’m fine’ when it is clear you are not.
  • Don’t Give Up – Some people get so overwhelmed by stress that they often shut down and stop reacting to situations around them because it has become too much to handle. Do not let the stress get the better of you!

Well I hope some of these tips have proven to be useful in your day to day situation, and if you have not had a chance to respond to this poll then we would be more than happy to hear your thoughts below.

Also, don’t miss out on this week’s poll: Are more people today settling for any job as opposed to finding their dream job? Your chance to win a Hoyt’s Cinema Double Pass are up for grabs!


As a fellow caffeine junkie, I do feel better when I can start the day with a coffee in hand on the way into work. I love the flavoured coffees too, such as hazelnut or vanilla, and it just makes me feel so much better and able to face the day as soon as I sit down at my desk after having one.

I’m not by any means saying that I need a coffee to cope with day to day activities, however, it is a luxury that I think has caught Australia by storm and I was certainly curious about what fellow readers thought of it.

According to the 13 studies conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine proved that A Cup of Coffee Can Increase Workplace Performance, and prevents less workplace errors for shift workers  between the ages of 18 and 65, but most that responded were between the ages of 20 and 30. I can understand that for shift workers it would be a particular blessing when the body clock is out of whack, but what about the general 9.00am to 5.00pm crowd?

Another website that I view called www.livestrong.com described caffeine in the workplace in the following way: ‘Caffeine is cheap, readily available and effective. Unless you’re a heavy user of caffeine, a cup of coffee or a soda will give you a reliable jolt of energy. Your co-workers are unlikely to disapprove of caffeine consumption, and chatting over the coffee pot may give you opportunities to bond with other coffee drinkers. If used judiciously, caffeine can compensate for lack of sleep, boredom or fatigue.’

This article also went on to describe coffee and the power nap as great afternoon pick me ups, however, napping on the job may be frowned upon by employers and is often considered as laziness or lack of commitment.

It is interesting how the ‘coffee culture’ has really grown over the years, as before it used to be ‘cigarette breaks’ that brought staff members together but now we really seem to be appreciating a more ‘European’ style of social atmosphere. Meeting in cafes I find tend to encourage the following:

  • Coffee Breaks – colleagues to interact and further build rapport within the office which can boost morale
  • To conduct interviews – a more casual style atmosphere can often help the interviewer connect with the interviewee on a more personal level
  • Networking opportunities – some potential clients may not have the time to meet for a lunch or dinner appointment, so we can make the most of the time that we have meeting over a cup of coffee.
  • Matchmaking – this can be the stage of getting to know someone before the dating stages commence.

Depending on whether or not you are the employer, I could imagine that too many coffee breaks could become more of a hindrance than a virtue, but given the right balance I believe it can be of good value.

For those that are interested in the health side of what caffeine does to the body, I have summarised this in some brief points below:

  • Stimulates your heart, respiratory system, and central nervous system.
  • Makes your blood more `sludgy’ by raising the level of fatty acids in the blood.
  • Causes messages to be passed along your nervous system more quickly• Stimulates blood circulation
  • Raises blood pressure
  • Causes your stomach to produce more acid
  • Irritates the stomach lining
  • Makes digestion less effective by relaxing the muscles of your intestinal system
  • Its diuretic effect caused increased urination  – although you would have have to drink about 8 cups of coffee in one sitting for this to occur!
  • Stimulates the cortex of your brain heightening the intensity of mental activity. This can result in a temporary feeling of alertness and, in the short term, banishes drowsiness and feelings of fatigue. In those who already have high levels of anxiety the heightened intensity of mental activity can produce unpleasant effects.
  • Affects the length and quality of sleep. Heavy caffeine users suffer from sleep-deprivation because their nervous system is too stimulated to allow them deep, restful or prolonged sleep.
  • The American Medical Journal has reported a correlation between caffeine and decreased bone density or osteoporosis in women.

One of our survey respondents noted, ‘Some people think that caffeine improves performance, but coffee contains a lot of empty calories, ie. no nutrition, so a good nutritious lunch like a crunchy salad with some protein will do far more for your workplace performance. Try some!’

Of course caffeine effects all of us in different ways, for example my flatmate tells me that sometimes she will get a shaky feeling after a cup of coffee first thing in the morning and will feel bloated, whereas I can have a coffee, perhaps a tea before lunch and then a can of V (energy drink) for the afternoon (very bad I know!)

But besides the jittery effect of having too much caffeine, there is also the consideration of blood sugar levels as well, to which diabetes is becoming a much higher risk then most would consider.

The overall verdict that I can see from poll respondents this week is to not deprive the caffeine drinkers of their daily intake as the withdrawal symptoms can often be grumpiness and fatigue, and to also keep the importance of ‘corporate culture’ by allowing the coffee breaks for members of your workplace team. However, if individuals are relying on caffeine for the sole purpose of improving workplace performance, you may be disappointed by the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ that can often be associated with it, so don’t forget that balancing a healthy diet and sleep patterns will overall give the results you need to be a productive in the workplace.

Haven’t had your say? Please send your feedback below, or check out our latest online poll – Should Employers put restrictions on social media in the workplace?


One fine morning a few years ago, my very lovely and well-meaning neighbour thrust a DVD into my hands. It was “The Secret”. Many of you will be familiar with this title. The book spent forever at the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I still remember my feeling of absolute incredulity as I viewed the film. Was I being too negative as thoughts such as “you have got to be kidding me” and “what a load of nonsense” floated through my mind? 

“The Secret states that desirable outcomes such as health, wealth, and happiness can be attracted simply by changing one’s thoughts and feelings. For example, if a person wanted a new car, by thinking about the new car and having positive feelings about the car, the law of attraction would rearrange events to make it possible for the car to manifest in the person’s life.” [Source

Almost 22% of respondents to last week’s online pollHow much does positive thinking influence your outcomes? – selected “Completely – exactly like the law of attraction, my thoughts attract what I want”. 


To gain more of an expert insight into the “positive psychology” movement and philosophy, I approached our Organisational Psychologist, Narelle Hess, for some guidance. The articles she directed me to all cautioned that “positive psychology is much more than ‘positive thinking’, and offers a vast array of insight and direction for how people can function more optimally. Positive psychology offers us added insight into how we can embrace change, feel positive about who we are, and enjoy healthy, responsible and fulfilled lives. But, like anything else the application of this knowledge and information is very important. Particularly when it comes to how we apply positive emotions.” [Source

This reflects the feelings of 75% of our poll respondents, who agreed that positive thinking helps them “Moderately – a positive outlook helps me to approach situations, but thoughts won’t work without actions too”. One commented: “You can think as positively as you like, however, it is your actions that will determine whether your positive thoughts come to fruition”, whilst another said “the power of positive thinking is incredible and certainly helps me, but in certain situations action is required. All the positive thinking doesn’t get the job done but it certainly helps and stops procrastination.”     

Last week, I read Peter Bregman’s book 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done 

I was particularly struck by a section in which he discussed how managers can motivate staff members by giving them tasks above their current abilities and outside their comfort zone. The important thing for the manager to do was to assure their staff member that it was okay to take some time, make some mistakes, and even to fail initially. The combination of setting realistic expectations within a framework of unleashing unrealised potential created an ideal environment for growth, achievement and a new level of productivity for the staff member, and therefore the company. 

The interplay between a positive environment and attitude, combined with a realistic set of expectations and actions, created the optimum zone. There can be no result without action, but a positive yet realistic attitude certainly helps things along. 

As a final, neat illustration of this, the person who responded to the poll with the comment “this week’s poll is the best ever and will win me tickets” was not the winner. However, if they, and you, continue to enter the poll, they might be a future winner. 

As my dad always says when he buys his Lotto tickets, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.   

Our new poll is live! Tell us: Are we relying too much on email, rather than actual conversation, to communicate? Results published in next week’s ChallengeBlog …


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