Ian Brand Residential Care at Bundoora Centre mark 30 years, on 24 November. We spoke to Professor Len Gray, who was the first head (with the title ‘Executive Director – Geriatrician’) of what was then called Bundoora Extended Care Centre (BECC), on his recollections of his time there.
Professor Gray currently serves as Director of the Centre for Health Services Research at the University Queensland. Dr Ian Brand, former CEO of PANCH and who IBRC is named after, describes him as “A first-class geriatrician who took to managing, as to the manner born.”
How did you come to be involved in starting up BECC?
I was appointed to the role by the then Board of Directors. Dr. Ian Brand was a BECC board member and CEO of PANCH at the time. PANCH managed some of the administrative functions in the early years.
Tell us more about those early days?
When I was appointed there were 40 acres of land and a site office. I supervised construction and commissioning of the hospital block, the Percy Cleland Wing, the Ian Brand Nursing Home, the community assessment facility and the psychogeriatric facilities.
We started the service with myself, a social worker and a part time ‘secretary’ as the role was called in those days. Essentially it was a construction site at that time: A meeting room, two offices and a kitchenette. We conducted home visits and provided a consultation service to the Austin and PANCH.
From recollection, the hospital building was completed in 1984.
The Aged Care Assessment Team (one of Australia’s first) commenced in 1984 and the Day Hospital opened in 1985. Hospital wards opened in 1986.
BECC came to be known as an innovator – lots of pilot and incubator projects: Linkages program; Coordinated Care trial; etc. It was the first site for many state and national programs, including one of the first sites to co-locate geriatric and psycho-geriatric services.
It was also one of the first aged care centres to be computerised. We built our own software that ran on a 20 MB server. We thought that was massive.
Dr Brand says, “BECC was built on time and a little below budget.” What are your recollections of working with Dr Brand ?
This was true – Ian was very proud of this at a time when many budgets blew out. He brought system wide know-how which blended well with our staff’s youthful exuberance and innovative passion.
What were some of the challenges you faced?
Well, the usual – needing to stay within budget, trying to innovate with budgets and performance indicators that support the status quo. Blending the aspirations of state and federal programs on the one precinct, to the advantage of older people in the area.
What were the highlights of your time there?
Developing so many new programs and seeing them replicated elsewhere, and/or adopted as policy.
Although by many standards BECC (now Bundoora Centre) is a young enterprise, it has made important contributions to program development and service design in Australia. Congratulations to all who have contributed over the years!!
Featured image shows Professor Len Gray and the grounds of Ian Brand Residential Care.