CEO Update 18 March

CEO updates

Two years ago the impact of Coronavirus (soon to be known as COVID-19) was about to become known.  Two years ago this weekend, like other organisations, we were scrambling to develop our COVID emergency plan and to implement it.  Two years ago, we moved our office based staff home and our data to the cloud; we ceased our day services and we closed our residential services off from the big wide scary world.  Two years ago we expected that life would return to normal ‘by Easter’, and then by the middle of the year…or surely by Melbourne Cup Day.  Two years ago we had absolutely no idea of what was ahead of us or of the impact it was going to have on our families and our community; on our lives.  We did not anticipate that businesses would close, some of them never to reopen.  It never occurred to us that we would live with an evening curfew.  We did not foresee that the wearing of masks and use of hand sanitiser would be standard fare and we certainly did not anticipate that thousands of people would march in the streets to lament their ‘loss of freedom’.

Nevertheless, and despite many truly distressing experiences, we have come out the other side of this extraordinary pandemic and, despite all that Omicron has to offer, are beginning to appreciate the niceties of Melbourne living once more.  For all that this has been an experience we would never have chosen, we have in fact achieved a great deal.  Throughout 2020 lockdowns we managed to come together virtually to prepare a new Bayley House Strategic Plan; and it is a great plan which reflects a positive growth mandate in all our core areas of business.  We learned to do things differently, we delivered thousands of hours of support online, we engaged our clients in new activities within their residential settings.  We connected people through Zoom and Teams and FaceTime.  We supported clients and families who were doing it particularly tough with 1:1 supports.  We opened up, we shut down….and then we did it all over again.  We complied with innumerable versions of Government directives and we argued with Government about some of those directives.

Most importantly though, we never lost sight of why we are here, who we are here for and the inherent risk involved in every single action which denied someone freedom of choice.  Restrictions were necessary but never taken for granted.

I want to thank each and every one of you for the contribution you made to the life of Bayley House and our clients throughout the last two years.  First and foremost I want to thank and acknowledge our staff team who have been flexible and committed throughout, who have put their own anxieties second and continued on despite the challenges of infection risk, PPE and every changing ‘new normals’.  I want to thank the Bayley House Board for their leadership, courage and confidence in the management team to lead through this experience.  I thank our families for their support, patience and reassurance that we were getting it right.  And of course I want to thank our incredible clients who repeatedly demonstrated what resilience and positivity mean, who more often than not supported us, and who, whilst being at least theoretically the most ‘at risk’, assuredly were the most adaptable.  We often refer to the ‘Bayley House family’ and certainly we have supported each other through some difficult times…as families do.

On a positive note, throughout COVID you have heard me refer to the Bayley House Arts Hub.  You may recall that we leased a property in Highett late last year and I am delighted to let you know that, following considerable planning and design work, we have this week signed a contract with K & G Building Group who are charged with converting the existing office space into our Arts Hub dream.  Whilst we do not have a firm completion date I anticipate that this exciting venture will be a reality by mid year.  Let the fitout begin!!

Take care and stay safe…