Former Honorary Consul to Victoria, Felix Pintado, shares his reflections on aged care and his involvement in the industry as Chief Executive of Residential Aged Care, Home Care, and Seniors Living at Mercy Health
The Philippine Times (PT): What has been your personal challenges and rewards being part of Mercy Health?
Felix Pintado (FP): I commenced with Mercy Health in mid-January 2020, and within two months we were challenged by the restrictions brought on as a response to the coronavirus pandemic. Over the past nine months, amid the resultant turmoil and the adoption of new management paradigms to combat the ‘stealth bomber’ of viruses, my introduction to and orientation with Mercy Health was nothing less than unique and also full of opportunities.
With only a short period of time after taking the helm, I was only able to visit some of our 34 homes across four states. We quickly adopted regular online meetings to ensure that our contact and communication with each other was enhanced. This became even more important when we were forced to isolate and distance, and control and quarantine, to protect our residents and their families, our staff and ourselves.
In addition to the financial pressures the aged care industry has been facing for quite a number of years, there are now potentially major financial implications of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the likelihood of major reforms from the much-anticipated recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. As the Commission noted in its Interim Report, “It is clear that a fundamental overhaul of the design, objectives, regulation and funding of aged care in Australia is required.”
I would very much like to be a part of those changes in the industry at Mercy Health. In this regard, I am particularly proud of the team at Mercy Health for their ongoing commitment to the cause and their dedication to delivering the Mission of Mercy Health – to bring God’s mercy to those in need. It is our reason for being and why Mercy Health exists. It is supported by our values, the behaviours we aspire to demonstrate every day in our quest to care for those in need.
TPT: How is your involvement in aged care fulfilling your life goals?
FP: My life goals have been the subject of much personal reflection over the years. The pattern that emerges from my interaction with the fields of psychology, theology and Catholic spirituality, education, health care and now aged care, is a predilection for serving and being of service to others, whether as a follower or leader, and particularly to the disadvantaged and those in real need within the community.
This preferred mindset colours my attitude and perspective, knowing that it will have expression in the many opportunities that present for improving the experience of those in our care through more efficient administrative practices and exemplary leadership behaviours. For me, leadership is service. As a wise person once said, “If serving is beneath you, then leadership is beyond you.”
Life goals change at different times in one’s life journey. Right now, my goals are focused on continuing to be motivated to influence and lead people by identifying and addressing the needs of the older citizens, our elders, who come to us for accommodation and care. My hope is that the members of my team who are on this journey with me will respond in their service to others through increased teamwork and deeper engagement in their work. I know they will achieve results while sustaining better performance.
TPT: Tell us about your journey in the aged care industry.
FP: I am a “baby boomer”, born in the Philippines of Spanish descent. My family migrated to Australia in the early 1970s. The eldest son in a family of eight children, the expectation was always that I would in the course of my life, care for and support my ageing parents.
My interest in the healthcare industry goes back 30 or so years. In that time, I completed further postgraduate studies, and held senior and chief executive positions in a number of public health services and governance roles in the public sector. My involvement in aged care started in 2007 when I took up membership of an advisory board with a private aged care provider. I learned so much from a governance perspective that I wanted to get involved in aged care operations. To this end, in 2010, I was appointed Chief Executive of Royal Freemasons Ltd. My career move into seniors living, home care and residential aged care was particularly apt, coming at a time when older persons and their welfare were prominently featured in my professional and personal life.
Professionally, my work in hospitals highlighted that most of the patients in our hospitals are increasingly in the older age cohort. Theorists have been telling us for years – 58 million people in the world are turning 60 years of age each year, roughly equivalent to two people celebrating their 60th birthday each second. The impact on services will be significant as the wave of baby boomers puts pressure on society’s limited resources to cope with their needs. This is particularly evident among the older Filipinos who are ageing in a foreign land who will have distinct needs for a culturally sensitive workforce.
Personally, my father was in his 80s at the time I started in aged care and he was becoming increasingly frail. My involvement in aged care helped guide the family’s deliberations about my father’s care options at that time of his life. My father passed away nearly three years ago, and my widowed mother, who is now herself in her late 80s, is becoming more reliant on her family for her health and wellbeing. We are all determined to ensure that she can continue to live as independently as possible, for as long as possible. My mum is also assured that when she is ready to consider a greater level of care, that her family will be available to help her, if she so wishes, to determine what she believes is best for her.
My time in aged care, my experience as Honorary Consul for the Philippines in Victoria, and the support of my wife, family, colleagues, and mentors have prepared me well for the leadership role at Mercy Health. As Chief Executive, I continue to be humbled and feel very honoured to be able to play a small part in the ongoing significant contribution of Mercy Health in supporting older citizens to live well as they age, through home and community care services, residential aged care and independent seniors/retirement living.