Topic: Bethanie: Confidently Preparing for Crisis

Day: Monday 12 October 2020

Time: 1:30pm-2:00pm AESDT


Even before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, Bethanie understood the detrimental effects an outbreak would have on the lives of the senior Australians they care for. In February 2020, they mobilised an internal Crisis Management Team (CMT) and quickly identified plans to respond to the emerging issues in aged care homes.

In the event of an outbreak, the priorities were clear. The first was to ensure that all residents continued to receive the high quality and safe care they were accustomed to. The second was to ensure our workforce had the appropriate skills to manage an outbreak if needed.

With these areas of focus in mind, Bethanie recruited a team of enrolled nurses, registered nurses and care workers from across the business to form the Outbreak Response Team (ORT). After extensive analysis of insights collected from colleagues in the eastern states, and careful consideration of the guidance provided by the Department of Health, Bethanie collaborated with Veraison, specialists in high performance teams, and Amanda Williamson, an ex-Defence Force Officer and combat veteran, who specialises in crisis response and operations management to deliver a 5-week intensive program to prepare the ORT for a COVID-19 response.

The program was designed to prepare the ORT for crisis situations, tighten their infection and prevention control practises and teach resilience and confidence to cope and thrive in complex, high-pressure and stressful situations.

At completion of the program, the team’s readiness for outbreak was evaluated. The results showed the program shifted team members’ confidence levels from 44 per cent pre-program, to an impressive 92 per cent post-program.

Despite our preparedness, Bethanie has fortunately not yet had to respond to an outbreak in WA.

Due to the comprehensive training the team completed, six representatives from the ORT formed part of the National Aged Care Emergency Response (NACER) to support the outbreaks in Victoria.

At the time of submission, these volunteers have completed half of their placement. They remain resilient, capable and safe from infection, while delivering a high-quality and safe standard of care to the residents they are responsible for.

Hear from Bethanie’s Chief People, Culture and Brand, Jo Christie, and Veraison’s Abby Hunt, as they detail how this incredible program enabled Bethanie to best prepare their team for a COVID-19 crisis and became an integral part of the COVID-19 response across Australia.


Jo has both a Bachelor of Arts in Education and Psychology and a Graduate Diploma in Business (HR) which have assisted in her over 20 years’ experience in Human Resources. She has held senior HR positions across hospitality and manufacturing in some of Australia’s largest corporate sector organisations which have involved her working not only in Perth but also in Melbourne and London.

In 2007 Jo decided to leave the corporate sector for Aged Care and joined Bethanie. Having special interests in the areas of Leadership, Culture and Change Management Jo has led major national change projects in the corporate sector and is a strong believer in open and transparent communication across all levels of organisations. Jo has responsibility for the strategic initiatives relating to Marketing & Brand and Bethanie’s Workforce including Organisational Development, Occupational Health and Safety and Industrial Relations.