CREATOR FOCUS - Graeme Pope
Published in the Words Of Wisdom magazine 1st quarter 2015
Words of Wisdom is a magazine full of activities and articles relevant to aged care which was published by Wisdom Activities.
Graeme featured in the Creator Focus section in the 2015 first quarter edition pages 6 & 7. Also the article ‘Music in Harmony with Person Centred Care’ was written by former managing editor of Better Homes and Gardens magazine, Carol Brett and it was published on pages 78 through 80.
Tell us about how your interest in the aged care world developed?
To be honest, I never imagined I’d be connected with the aged care sector. I’d gone from having a long and fulfilling career in aviation to developing an independent music label called Evergreen Melodies with the sole purpose of recording and producing just one artist: John Sydney, an incredibly talented pianist from Tasmania.
I would organise tours so John could entertain at retirement villages and nursing homes in and around Melbourne. John’s style of playing was very much family-round-the-piano type of music and the shows were incredibly popular.
Sadly, four years into our partnership, tragedy struck and John died. Before he passed away, however, and unbeknown to me, John bequeathed me the rights to his work and asked me to keep his music alive.
At that point I didn’t know what to do, but I’d toured with John long enough to realise the value of his music to elderly folk, and gradually the future became clearer. I knew that in John’s music I had something unique and precious, and I felt an enormous responsibility to share his legacy with those who would treasure it most – people living in aged care.
In just a few short years after John’s death, Evergreen Melodies had a new sister company devoted to that dream. I called it Aged Care Music Resources and the rest, as they say, is history.
What is your work background / previous experience?
A 40 year career in commercial aviation of which 34 years was operating B727 (Ansett-Domestic) and B747 (Qantas/SIA and various other overseas contracts) aircraft as a professional Flight Engineer.
Do you make many of the products you sell ?
I am the instigator behind all products we create and sell.
Does your business require you to travel - Australia or overseas ?
Most travel is within Australia. We have overseas markets in sight.
Can you tell us what it is that you enjoy most about your work ?
Having grown up in the tail end of their era I have a natural empathy for the needs of elderly folk and appreciate how important correctly managed ‘age appropriate’ music is to them and how it can impact positively on their quality of life. Most in care only have their memories and music they relate to connects them with the things they’ve enjoyed throughout their life.
Do you tend to work by yourself or do you have business/work partners ?
I enjoy teamwork and I have a wonderful team of professionals working with me to produce resources of outstanding quality. We have the capability to produce music based resources where needed, be it anything from entertaining CDs/DVDs, music based resources such as music quizzes and movement with music programs. We have the professional capability to produce quality video resources and training delivered via DVDs or online streaming.
After the work day, how do you relax?
My work is my passion which tends to embrace my whole life. Family life, projects at home and the need for rest and exercise are integrated around my work.
After having worked in the aged care (activities) business area, can you tell us how you think the focus on activities and their implementation could be improved by local facilities and also by the National and State Government?
Sadly the government’s business model is purely clinical in its approach to caring for our elderly. Insufficient funds are (if any at all!!) allocated beyond this concept. Funding is desperately needed to provide for quality of life beyond basic care needs.
I’m continually encouraged by a developing trend towards person centred care, a concept I wholeheartedly support. I don’t see a need for huge amounts of funding being required to achieve this. A rethink on how things can be done with consideration given to reallocating available resources more efficiently with a view to producing a more person centred approach to care I think is quite achievable.
What motivates you on a day by day basis within the work place?
Making a difference in the lives of our elderly.
Could you tell us about your plans or vision for the future of your business?
I’m not interested in just making products with the hope of selling them to aged care. I don’t need to do that. I prefer to identify a need, work on a collaborative basis with those working with the elderly to produce quality music based resources that assist diversional therapists and lifestyle coordinators in their line of work and which are easy for them to use.
Could you give any advice to anyone who may be thinking of starting up a business related to the Aged Care Industry?
The greatest challenge in running an aged care related business is competing for what relatively little funding there is available outside the basic needs of care. Many lifestyle and activities coordinators end up purchasing resources from their personal income or seek external funding.
Striking that right balance between RRP of goods and covering business running expenses can be quite a challenge when selling to a budget sensitive industry where the price of your products may often be perceived as “expensive”. I recommend careful planning and small steps. Also bear in mind that if it were a big money business then big business would be in there doing what you do.