Cara Hade, founder of Canberra-based home and community care agency All About Care, was pleasantly surprised to win the Business Woman of the Year Award at last month’s Canberra Women in Business Awards.
“I was under the impression that we were entered in the community participation award category. We thought we were going home empty-handed!” she jokes.
Just under four years ago, Cara was All About Care’s only employee. Today, the organisation employs over 60 people and delivers services to over 1000 clients across Canberra.
“When I started, I was the only employee, and I wasn’t able to pay myself for three months. In 12 months, I had 15 workers and we have continued to grow,” she says.
All About Care provides a range of services from personal care to social support and respite care. Cara, a former nurse, started the organisation three-and-a-half-years ago in a bid to transform community care for the better.
“I wanted to create a new model of care as I wanted to lead the way instead of waiting for it to happen. It’s still a work in progress, but we concentrate on tailoring care to each clients’ needs. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution,” she says.
Cara’s vision for All About Care is to help people to live independently in their own homes, regardless of age or disability. Supporting families is also a key focus.
“It’s a great feeling to watch individuals with sometimes severe disabilities learn to take control of their lives and develop new skills. It’s delightful to see the smiles on people’s faces when they are able to do something they haven’t been able to do for a long time, or to witness the relief on a husband’s face when they have a couple of hours respite from giving 24-hour care to a loved one,” she says.
“I don’t believe in limits. I believe in doing what it takes so that people can come together as a family. When you become a carer, it’s easy to lose your identity. We give families time to be families.”
Cara has big plans for All About Care, including creating a support system so that disabled people can complete the Duke of Edinburgh Award and helping young people with disabilities to move out of home and find work.
“My dream is to open a transition house for young people with disabilities. There’s a huge gap after finishing school as the current programs available are limited in the type of work available. I’d like to teach living skills and social skills so that they can learn how to be independent,” she says.
She is currently trialling a program in which people with severe disabilities are employed by All About Care and taught administrative skills including shredding, filing and printing emails.
“Once we’ve taught those skills, we’ll look for other employers who can offer them targeted jobs that are often forgotten about or put off, like filing. If it’s successful, we’ll do a fully-funded program,” she says.
She says All About Care’s success is thanks to its strong and dedicated team.
“All About Care only exists because it has fantastic committed staff who put in 110 per cent effort every day. The [Business Woman of the Year Award] belongs to them and to my beautiful children who never let me give up,” she says.
“At the end of the day, it’s the frontline support workers – the ones who don’t often get mentioned – who drive this industry. It’s easy enough to accept awards and market the business, but it’s really the support workers, families and the community who need attention and recognition.”