ACH Group Announces New Chair In Aged Care

Imelda Lynch

ACH Group is pleased to announce the appointment of Imelda Lynch as Board Chair.

Ms Lynch takes over from current Chair Mary Patetsos AM who has stepped down from the role after more than 15 years of service with ACH Group.

A highly regarded administrator with more than 30 years’ experience in leadership positions in the public, private and community sectors, Ms Lynch has been a Non-Executive Director with ACH Group since 2021.

Ms Lynch is also a Non-Executive Director for a range of organisations including the Macular Disease Foundation Australia, Australian Medical Research Advisory Board and the Adelaide Football Club. A registered nurse, she is Chair of the Glenelg Golf Club and an independent clinical advisor to the clinical governance committee to the Northern Adelaide Local Healthcare Network Board.

Ms Lynch said she looked forward to continuing to work closely with the Board and Executive in this new capacity during an exciting time for ACH Group and the aged care sector.

“Through the recent launch of our $40 million ground-breaking Healthia development at Elizabeth South, ACH Group is demonstrating significant leadership in aged care, and we will continue to build on this,” Ms Lynch said.

The Board expresses its gratitude to Ms Patetsos for her outstanding service. Her long-standing dedication and passion has been integral to ACH Group and the aged care sector at large, particularly in enhancing services to respond to the needs and expectations of older people.

“Mary’s vision and strong focus on cross-sector partnerships and education has been at the heart of our organisation’s evolution including the most recent development at Healthia at Elizabeth South as well as our ViTA Residential Care Home in Daw Park and Spence on Light retirement living apartments in Adelaide’s CBD,” Ms Lynch said.

“On behalf of ACH Group, I take this opportunity to thank Mary for her outstanding contribution and wish her the very best for the future.”

Ms Patetsos congratulated Ms Lynch and wished her “every success”.

“Imelda is extremely well-placed to be Chair,” Ms Patetsos said. “Her extensive experience and influence, especially across the health industry, is extremely beneficial and highly valued. The ACH Group Board is in good hands.”

Ms Patetsos said she was “incredibly privileged” to have played a part in helping create good lives for older people.

“I feel very proud to have served the ACH Group Board, especially as Chair, and be part of such a dynamic team driving positive outcomes for older people and all those who care for them,” she said.

“Healthia, particularly, has re-imagined the future of aged care in South Australia and across the country. Being part of that journey and now, seeing the profound and positive impact it is creating for older people and the broader community, is truly special.”

ACH Group is also pleased to announce that Julie Mitchell, who has served on the Board since 2012, has been appointed Deputy Chair. Julie takes over from the Honourable John Hill, who retired earlier this year.

The new appointments are effective from Wednesday, November 1, 2023.

Learn more about ACH Group Board.

Aged Care Employee Day 2023

Aged care employee day 2023 banner

Aged Care Employee Day is celebrated on August 7 each year and is a day to recognise the contributions of those who work in the sector.

ACH Group CEO Frank Weits said the day is important for both the sector and wider community.

“Aged Care Employee Day celebrates the hundreds of thousands of Australians involved in supporting older people who receive aged care services and recognises the incredible work they do.

“I thank all the staff at ACH Group for their care and passion in supporting older people to live good lives.”

ACH Group celebrated Aged Care Employee Day delivering gifts to each of its 1900 employees.

Included in the 1900 staff is Nem Davies who has worked at ACH Group’s West Park Residential Care Home in Goolwa since 2014.

Photo of Nem Davies, who is a registered nurse at West Park, Goolwa.
Nem Davies reflects on her career journey

Nem started her career as a carer and with a desire for personal and educational development studied to become a Registered Nurse.

“Before moving into aged care, I was a journalist. When you work as a journalist, you’re constantly thinking about what stories to write and how to write them, whilst also learning new information. It’s always appealed to me and has been important to keep learning,” Nem said.

“At the age of 48, I began my Registered Nursing study. I knew I wanted to stay in health and it was a progression from the carer role. It’s something I am very proud of achieving as I continued to work while studying.”

Through the study, Nem participated in placements in different healthcare settings.

“I have a sense of belonging in aged care. In a residential care home, you learn more about the residents, their routines, and their families; there’s a greater connection.”

Nem said the role of a Registered Nurse in a care home holds a lot of responsibility.

“You need clinical, leadership, and personal skills. I love the challenge and how rewarding the job is. It is wonderful to see residents who regain their health and wellbeing, and to celebrate special moments with them like receiving a letter from the Royal Family for 100th birthdays.”

Mr Weits said a career in aged care is rewarding and also offered a host of opportunities.

“At ACH Group we believe in personal and professional growth for staff and stories like Nem’s highlight the breadth of career pathways available,” he said.

If you’re interested in a career in aged care, ACH Group is currently hiring for several roles across the Fleurieu Peninsula and metropolitan Adelaide.

The diverse stories of ACH Group’s artists

SALA 2023 Favourite Things - theme for ACH Group

The ACH Group community will display more than 200 artworks in this year’s South Australian Living Arts (SALA) Festival.

The not-for-profit aged care provider invited customers, residents, staff, and volunteers to create art to the theme of ‘Favourite Things’.

A range of pieces were submitted from paintings to photography, sculpture, collage, mosaic, textiles, and mixed media.

Just as the art is diverse so are the life stories and experiences of the exhibiting artists including ACH Group staff member Marie Innes and residential care home resident Rona Stanley.

Art began as therapy for Marie after her husband died only months after the birth of their daughter.

“I started to download digital art apps on my iPad to keep my mind busy in between looking after a small baby,” Marie, who has worked at ACH Group for 22 years, said.

“It evolved that I made an online friendship group with people from various countries who test digital art apps. One of the first apps I tested was by Khoi Vinh, the former Design Director of the New York Times.”

The piece Marie exhibited in the 2023 SALA Festival is called ‘Mucha To Do About Nothing’ and was created on the art app ‘Bazaart’.

Marie with her digital collage which she submitted for SALA 2023 exhibition

“I found images of my favourite things including relaxing on holidays, geometric shapes, colour hues, and works by artist Alphonse Mucha and created a digital collage by cropping the images and intersplicing the pieces.”

Marie’s advice on art is, “I encourage everyone to look at the world from an artistic lens; you can see art in many objects.”

Rona, a resident of ACH Group’s Colton Court Residential Care Home located in McLaren Vale, became fascinated with art at school and it’s a passion that has continued throughout her life.

“Growing up on the West Coast of South Australia I was inspired by the natural landscape and would paint Australian scenes.”

Rona with her paintings for 2023 SALA Festival

Rona’s interest saw her take on a position as an art teacher, a role she continues to have at Colton Court where from time to time she teaches fellow residents techniques in their weekly art classes.

“I just really enjoy looking at other people’s art, seeing how they improve and where their inspiration comes from.”

Rona has exhibited two art pieces in the 2023 SALA Festival, which will be on display at the Stump Hill Gallery, McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast Visitor Centre.

ACH Group CEO Frank Weits said the aged care provider is proud that the works of customers, residents, and staff will be exhibited in a well-regarded, public art festival.

“It is the 13th year the ACH Group arts community has exhibited in SALA and it is a favourite initiative for both experienced and budding artists to take part in,” he said.

ACH Group offers art programs led by professional art teachers in its residential care homes, retirement living villages, and community programs.

“The classes provide an opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills or revitalise past ones. The benefits customers and residents can experience from engaging in art include relieving stress and anxiety, improving brain function and building self-esteem.”

Learn more about ACH Group’s involvement in SALA and exhibition venues.

Opening nears for a new age of residential aged care

The aged care, health, and education hub developed by ACH Group which will feature a state-of-the-art residential care home and provide health services to Adelaide’s northern community is complete.

Healthia, a $40 million development by the South Australian not-for-profit aged care provider, sits within the Playford Health Precinct and will open in mid-August 2023.

ACH Group CEO Frank Weits outside of one of the eight small homes at Healthia.

ACH Group CEO Frank Weits said Healthia will improve the health and lifestyle outcomes for Adelaide’s northern community, develop career pathways for healthcare workers, and reimagine residential aged care.

The 96-place residential care home has adopted an innovative small household-built form, a preferred model identified by the Royal Commission, and will be the first in Australia to implement the U.S.-founded Green House Project.

“Healthia responds to a generation shift in expectations and the Royal Commission’s call to action to rethink aged care,” Mr Weits said.

“ACH Group is a strident leader in reimagining aged care through innovative built forms, and workforce and care models to support older people to live good lives.

“Our partnership with Green House will accelerate the shift to person-directed care supporting residents to have more choice and engagement in everyday living. Furthermore, the Green House model rethinks the roles of the traditional residential care workforce, amplifying the Care Worker role. We envisage this will increase staff retention which translates to the continuity of care for residents.”

Construction of Healthia began in December 2021. The building extending over 9100 square metres was designed by South Australian architect Brown Falconer and constructed by SARAH Constructions.

The residential care home comprises eight purpose-built single-storey homes, located in a village setting and joined via interconnected walkways. The homes feature 12 self-contained private rooms with ensuites; a large open plan living, kitchen and dining area; and features commonly found in traditional houses so residents can participate in the daily house activities if they wish.

“Many design principles within the houses have taken into consideration what would be seen in someone’s own home; this has ensured a definite move away from an institutional setting and will capture a home environment and sense of familiarity for residents,” Mr Weits said.

“The homes are designed to integrate with the natural streetscape of a typical suburban neighbourhood through their scale, domestic features, and the building materials used. We have also minimised institutional artefacts such as signage, nurse stations, and medication trolleys.”

One of the private bedrooms at Healthia.

Healthia will also be a home base for ACH Group’s community workforce that support the growing number of older residents in the north with Home Care Packages.

At Healthia, ACH Group has brought together the Northern Adelaide Local Health Network (NALHN), University of South Australia, and City of Playford.

“ACH Group is proud to lead the cross-sector partnership. It is an example of how aged care providers can lead progressive partnerships that support the healthcare system and future workforce and improve health outcomes for locals,” Mr Weits said.

Healthia residents, along with the public, will have access to professional and lower-cost student-assisted services through the University of South Australia’s co-located GP, nursing, and allied health clinic. ACH Group’s relationship with the university will also see nursing and allied health students undertake placements in the care home.

A Concert of Pure Imagination

Pure Imagination concert banner by Sing for Joy Choir

An ex-rock band member alongside a former ballet dancer will take to the stage with more than 100 fellow choir members on Saturday 17 June.

For the first time since 2020, the Sing for Joy Choir – a community choir by South Australian aged care provider ACH Group – will perform. The concert titled ‘Pure Imagination’ features a set list of 17 songs of various genres including Walking on Sunshine, Don’t Worry Be Happy, and Once Upon a December.

Edelweiss, the popular tune from The Sound of Music, is choir member Orietta Chiusamonti’s favourite song in the playlist.

“My mother was of German heritage, so this song takes me back to her and my family,” Orietta said.

Photo of Orietta who was in a rock band Photo of Orietta, when she was in a band, back in mid-1980s to the early 2000sFrom the mid-1980s to the early 2000s, Orietta was a singer and guitarist in rock bands performing throughout Australia and America.

“The first band I was in was The Twenty Second Set. I was 25 years old. We did quite well considering we were young. We looked up where our records were, and they had gone all the way to Canada. I was like, wow, that is so unbelievable. I didn’t realise how many people out there had our record,” she said.

“Then I moved to America, and I continued to be in many bands. I went to sing with girls, guys, whoever. It just was beautiful, and it was just music. We played all the time, enjoyed ourselves, and travelled around the world. That’s what I wanted to do; it was a great time of my life,” she said.

Orietta, 61, who lives with dementia and vision impairment, has been a member of Sing for Joy for two years.

“Singing has always been a big part of who I am and my identity. It makes me feel good.”

Audrey Walsh, 86, joined Sing for Joy seven years ago after a friend from a women’s group asked if she’d like to join.

Audreay as a ballet dancer

Audrey said, “I can’t sing,” and her friend replied, “None of us can sing, but we learn to sing.” So, Audrey gave it a go and never looked back.

“I think there’s life in the choir for people; it brings you to life to sing. It’s joy.”

Audrey had been involved in music all her life but didn’t know much about written music. She was a ballet dancer until she was 23 years old.

“I really enjoy singing. I learned a lot about notes and breathing when joining the choir. Plus, I’ve enjoyed the people that you meet from all walks of life. I enjoy the performances too.”

Audrey said she was really excited to perform again.

“It’s exciting, it’s exhausting, it’s challenging. I never thought it would mean so much to me, but it does. There’s one thing I don’t like to miss, and that’s the choir.”

Starring over 100 choir members – aged in their 60s to 90s – from six choirs from across metropolitan Adelaide, the performance will be under the guidance of choir directors Paul Sinkinson and James McCluskey-Garcia.

ACH Group CEO Frank Weits said after a two-year break due to COVID, the ACH Group community is looking forward to seeing the Sing for Joy Choir perform once again.

“Many of our choir members have a background in musical theatre and are thrilled to perform again in a public concert,” Mr Weits said.

“The choir is a popular choice in ACH Group’s range of social experiences. The choir supports the discovery of new interests, and the opportunity to meet like-minded individuals and learn new skills in a way that is welcoming and fun.”

Event details
When: Saturday 17 June 2023
Time: 2pm – 4pm
Where: Magic Millions, 1 Park Terrace Morphettville
Ticket pricing: General Admission $22 | Concession* and Children 6-12 years $18 | Children 5 years and under, free.
Please note – tickets are now sold out, learn more.

World War II by sea

Jack Nicholls from Yankalilla Centre Residential Care Home talks about his experience as a WWII veteran, wearing a jacket with war medals and badges.

While Jack Nicholls now lives along the Gulf St Vincent, he spent the early 1940s travelling the world’s oceans as part of Britain’s World War II efforts.

Born in London in 1926, Mr Nicholls joined the British Merchant Navy as a 16-year-old.

“I couldn’t wait to get to sea; I was very proud to be part of the war effort,” Mr Nicholls, a resident of ACH Group’s Yankalilla Centre Residential Care Home, said.

“I was following in the footsteps of my father and older brother, both were members of the Merchant Navy.”

While he was fortunate to not experience direct warfare from the Germans, he said there was always plenty of action around the ships he was on.

Britain’s Merchant Navy played a vital role in the Allies’ victory by transporting soldiers, food, and weaponry throughout the war effort including in the historic Battle of Atlantic and the Italian Campaign, for which Mr Nicholls was awarded medals. He was also awarded a Pacific Area medal.

“We transported American and Canadian soldiers who would be involved in D-Day, and injured soldiers from Italy to Egypt,” he said.

“Food supplies were much needed in England. We would travel to New Zealand on a three-month return trip to bring back items like lamb, cheese, and butter.”

Mr Nicholls’ main role was to ensure the cabin quarters remained in order and his fellow seamen were comfortable.

“The living conditions were pretty good; however, the hours were long. In times when we didn’t work, we would sit on the deck and sing or play guitar,” he said.

“We had a ration of two bottles of beer a day and were paid four pounds a month and received another four pounds for danger money per month.”

Mr Nicholls said Canadians, Americans, and New Zealanders were all wonderful people, so much so Mr Nicholls and his wife Anne had their sights on migrating to New Zealand in the late 1960s.

“At the time, New Zealand wanted bricklayers and carpenters, but I wasn’t skilled in these areas. Instead, we moved to Adelaide where I worked at Holden,” he said.

“Anne and I have enjoyed living in South Australia with our favourite hobbies having been caravanning and cruising.”

ACH Group’s General Manager Customer Care Linda Feldt said, “Within the ACH Group community there are many customers and residents who have been involved in war efforts.

“It is an absolute privilege to hear about their life experiences at war. Their stories are honourable, and it is so important for younger generations to hear the important contributions and sacrifices they made.”

Anzac Day will be marked with several services within the ACH Group community to pay respect to the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country.

New innovative care model arrives in Australia

Healthia Residential Care Home, view from Mark Road, Elizabeth South

ACH Group will be the first aged care provider in Australia to implement the U.S.-founded Green House Project (GHP) model of care, which promotes the autonomy and individuality of residents and staff.

The model will be introduced in the South Australian provider’s newest residential care home Healthia, which will open in August 2023.

Informed by person-directed care principles, GHP maximises the independence of residents, empowers staff, and enhances the benefits of the highly regarded small household design that Healthia has adopted.

Owned and overseen by the U.S.-based Center for Innovation, the GHP model has been successfully implemented in nearly 400 private and not-for-profit care homes in the United States.

ACH Group CEO Frank Weits said ACH Group was drawn to GHP because of the opportunity to accelerate the culture shift to person-directed care within its workforce at Healthia and the benefits to be experienced by residents and staff.

“We have recently implemented a new operating model to provide increased role clarity and accountability while standardising the workforce model in our care homes. Having implemented the new model, the next priority for us is to move workforce culture to person-directed care,” he said.

“GHP and person-directed care have strong synergies with ACH Group’s Good Lives Philosophy based on the delivery of 4Rs – right relationships, real experiences, reablement, and roles – for residents.

“Residents living at Healthia will feel an increased sense of control, have an improved quality of life, and a fulfilling and positive experience.”

Mr Weits said for more than 70 years ACH Group has had an innovative mindset committed to reimagining aged care through innovative built forms and care models to support older people to live good lives.

“There is an increasing urgency and growing expectation for change in the aged care sector – driven by residents, customers, the workforce, and regulators alike – to move to a model of care where the priority is the older person’s preferences and staff skills are developed and nurtured. The Green House Project delivers this,” he said.

Center for Innovation CEO Susan Ryan said, “Introducing the Green House Project model of care at Healthia – the first ever home outside of the United States to implement the model – is such a significant milestone for our organisation, and we’re so pleased that ACH Group is the local operating partner that will make it happen.”

“ACH Group’s commitment to reimagining aged care services was clear from my very first conversations with leadership, and we can’t wait to partner with ACH Group. Together, we can create the empowering services and supports that older people in Australia, and everywhere else around the world, truly deserve.”

About Healthia Residential Care Home:

  • Healthia has adopted the small household model and comprises eight single-storey homes located in a village setting.
  • The Royal Commission favoured the small household model for residential care as the home-style design promotes a better quality of life for residents, especially people living with dementia.
  • The environment is small and domestic rather than large and institutional. Each home features:
      • An open-plan dining and living space, and a fully equipped kitchen for residents.
      • Twelve individual bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms.
      • Access to landscaped gardens from every room.
      • Domestic laundry.
  • Realising the importance of holistic care in supporting residents to live good lives, a full range of health, wellbeing, and social services are offered in the Central Building.
  • Healthia’s purposeful design limits the spread of infectious viruses such as COVID-19.
  • The University of South Australia will co-locate in the Central Building with a general practice and student-led allied health clinic open to the public on a full-time basis on weekdays. In addition, students will undertake a placement in the residential care home.
  • Healthia is located at 26 Mark Road, Elizabeth South, and is anticipated to open in early August 2023.

A new take on aged care advertising

Group of older gentlemen catching up in the city

South Australian aged care provider ACH Group has flipped the script on aged care advertising with its new brand campaign ‘Being yourself never gets old’.

The integrated campaign is spearheaded by a 30-second film featuring the vision of older people engaging in their favourite activities including lifting weights in the gym, creating art, and on a road trip through Adelaide’s foothills.

The creative is the work of Adelaide marketing agency, Simple.

ACH Group CEO, Frank Weits, said insights from focus groups highlighted that older people wanted more contemporary and authentic depictions of themselves in the promotion of aged care services.

“They told us they don’t see themselves as ‘old’ and want to continue doing the activities they love or be inspired to learn new things,” he said.

Simple Creative Director, Pat Parisi, said, “As we get older, we value our independence above all else, yet most campaigns for aged care services show older people in submissive roles and focus on the losses they are experiencing. ‘Being yourself never gets old’ seeks to change this narrative by showing older people engaging in their favourite activities, empowering them to proudly be themselves.”

Simple Managing Director, David Stocker, observed that advertising across the aged care sector has traditionally all looked the same.

“We saw from research that aged care advertising blends in people’s minds. Consumers struggle to recall individual ads and can rarely attribute them to a corresponding brand. The aim was to produce a campaign that would positively resonate with ACH’s Group target audience and be remembered for all the right reasons,” he said.

“Music is a key aspect of the campaign; it helps the audience recall the ad and stirs emotions. The only way we could sonically express the feeling of the campaign was by crafting it ourselves, with our team writing and composing the soundtrack.”

Mr Weits said it was vital that the new campaign aligned with ACH Group’s long-standing values and purpose.
“ACH Group has a proud history of challenging ageist stereotypes, celebrating the life experiences of older people, and supporting them to stay in control of their own life,” he said.

“We wanted to create a feeling of authenticity and cast real people with rich life experiences and big personalities to help the audience connect and rewrite what aging can look like.”

The voiceover at the end ‘you do you, we’re here for the rest’ introduces the full range of ACH Group’s service offerings: home care, social, allied health, retirement living, and residential care.

“While older South Australians continue to live their chosen life, ACH Group is here for the rest,” Mr Weits said.

“This could be meeting new people on a social experience; staying active or regaining their fitness through health and wellbeing services; supporting customers to live independently in their own homes; or supporting them to live well in their new home in retirement living or residential care.”

The Being yourself never gets old campaign has launched across TV, digital, and out-of-home media.

Find out more and get involved today.

#Thanksforcaring – Recognising aged care workers

Thanks for caring - Aged Care Employee Day 2023

Sunday 7 August is Aged Care Employee Day, a day to recognise those who work in the industry, including the more than 1900 people employed with leading South Australian aged care provider ACH Group.

ACH Group CEO Frank Weits said Aged Care Employee Day is an important day not only for the sector, but the wider community.

“Almost every Australian will cross paths with aged care services within their lifetime and therefore many will meet, or be cared for by, the passionate people in the sector,” he said.

“Aged Care Employee Day celebrates everyone who is involved in supporting older people who receive aged care services and recognises the incredible work they do.

“I thank all the staff at ACH Group for their care, commitment and passion.”

ACH Group will celebrate Aged Care Employee Day delivering gifts to each of its employees.

Mr Weits said due to the growing demand for aged care services and business transformation there are many job opportunities available.

“There is still the common misconception that a career in aged care is solely around healthcare, however within our organisation of more than 1900 staff there are employees from a wide range of professions from human resources to finance, procurement, property development, IT and marketing,” he said.

“Careers in aged care are rewarding, offer learning opportunities and stability,”

To learn more about working at ACH Group visit

Celebrating contributions of volunteers

West Park South Australia

When asked what inspires Deb Coligan in her volunteer role, she responds that her own experience with her father living in a residential care home has a major influence.

Deb is one of 20 volunteers at ACH Group’s West Park Residential Care Home in Goolwa.

National Volunteer Week held from May 16 – 20 celebrates the generous contributions of volunteers.

“There are so many wonderful volunteers at West Park, some of whom have been there for many years,” Deb said.

After retiring from managing the Meadows Hotel with her husband, Deb’s involvement at West Park began at the start of the pandemic in 2020 by providing concierge services to visitors.

“After a few months I was asked if I wanted to help create the home’s bi-monthly newsletter that is distributed to residents and their families,” she said.

“My dad lived in a residential care home, and I think it’s vital for families to be given insights into what their loved ones are enjoying in the home.

“The lifestyle staff create new experiences and activities to keep residents engaged and active, and I try to showcase the events taking place by publishing lots of photos.

“The reward for me is seeing the residents read the newsletter. I also think residents seeing what is happening in the home – seeing others enjoying experiences – encourages more to take part.”

Deb shared that the role has also made her realise the amazing contribution of staff working in residential care, especially with the challenges of the pandemic.

ACH Group Volunteer Manager, Tay Parker, thanked all ACH Group volunteers.

“ACH Group is so fortunate to have a large group of passionate volunteers,” she said.

“Volunteering benefits both the volunteer, and residents and customers. Volunteers enjoy staying in touch with their community, learning new skills, and making new social connections,” she said.

“For residents and customers engaging with volunteers can connect them to new experiences depending on the skills and background of each volunteer and expand their social connections.”

West Park along with ACH Group’s residential care home in Yankalilla is currently seeking volunteers in a wide range of roles including supporting residents to engage in social activities, one-on-one friendly visiting, and specialist group support for example men’s group, gardening, and memory therapy.

Deb is one of 20 volunteers at ACH Group's West Park Residential Care Home in Goolwa
Deb is one of 20 volunteers at ACH Group’s West Park Residential Care Home in Goolwa

Learn more about volunteering at ACH Group.

Download: Media release – Celebrating contributions of volunteers