Excellence in Age Services Awards 2020 

National Finalists

The LASA Excellence in Age Services Awards aim to promote and recognise excellence across the diverse and dynamic fields of endeavour in the age services industry. The awards celebrate the passion and achievements of organisations, teams and individuals in the service of older Australians. The awards also seek to increase public confidence and community involvement in aged care and services.

Awards have been judged at a state level across the five categories for 2020 with winners from each state progressing as finalists to the national awards. LASA would like to congratulate the following state winners and finalists for the National Awards.

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Organisation Award

Recognising an age services provider who has made an outstanding contribution to care and services development or provision of high level support to the aged by demonstrating leadership, innovation and excellence.


KinCare stepped up and innovated to meet heightened consumer care needs during the NSW bushfire crisis. In one day alone, KinCare reached out to 1,203 home care recipients like John, who was living alone in a severely affected area with no water, no food and no way out.

The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the outreach program become firmly established at KinCare with regular welfare checks for those who may not have family support or social interaction – making a real difference in the lives of people in their care.




Committed to community engagement, Communify Queensland’s aged care services identified a gap for clients who wanted to socialise in the evenings (pre-COVID). Communify started two monthly social groups that are inclusive, supportive and engaging, and have evoked incredible energy and enthusiasm from participants.

Sip and Paint is an evening of guided art facilitated by a trained art therapist, which includes a home cooked meal, wine and transport.

Culture Club, offered in partnership with the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, allows participants to attend live theatre events with dinner and transport included.

Helping Hand Age Care

Helping Hand has pioneered an innovative approach to building workforce capacity, by engaging students to work alongside clients and staff as both learners and contributors.

Each year, Helping Hand supports over 500 students who are undertaking certificate, bachelor or PhD studies across vocational education, allied health, nursing, medicine, pharmacy, engineering or business disciplines.

The program enriches inter-professional understanding of the needs of older people and provides a pathway for students to become future employees at Helping Hand.


ECHO demonstrates continuous improvement, innovation and clear strategic planning to improve the lives of older Australians.

ECHO has partnerships with universities in Western Australia and Tasmania to improve contemporary evidence-based practice in dementia and mental health care for older people.

Partnering is also partnering with a WA tech start-up and WA Health to trial a new in-home monitoring system, designed to improve care planning and help people live at home for longer.

By investing time and money into new approaches and technologies, ECHO hopes to make incremental contributions to a better standard of aged care.

Team Award

Recognising a team, working within the age services sector that has created an environment that encourages workplace diversity,  positive workplace culture and increased staff wellbeing through development of a service or process or has used innovation and initiative to improve the lives of older people and improve the age services experience. 

Shoalhaven & Eurobodalla Aged Care Centre Teams
IRT Group

IRT’s Critical Incident Management Team was formed in response to the bushfire emergency situation which unfolded from December 2019.

The group met daily and liaised with government officials to provide coordinated support to seven aged care facilities – delivering food, clinical supplies, generators and diesel – despite road closures and communication difficulties.

The facilities innovated to provide diverse activities for residents, with many staff working double shifts or interrupting their leave to assist with evacuations, help secure and hose down buildings as fires approached, and reassure residents.

Let’s Dig in Team
Bolton Clarke

Bolton Clarke’s Let’s Dig in Team has established a therapeutic horticultural program across its residential communities, with the vegetables used in the kitchen and the flowers picked by residents for their rooms.

The weekly gardening group has led to more time outdoors, increased social engagement and physical activity, and greater levels of mental wellbeing.

The program builds on extensive food innovation actions across Bolton Clarke in partnership with the Maggie Beer Foundation.

The Maintenance Team
Willochera Home

This relatively new team has developed a Sensory Garden in the home’s dementia-specific Sunshine Wing where residents can smell the flowers, feed the birds and engage with living creatures.

This tactile, auditory and olfactory experience is providing an invaluable calming influence.

Residents are often seen walking in bare feet on the lawn and families have noticed they are significantly calmer and more responsive and engaged during the day due to the Sensory Garden.


Collaborative Team
Princes Court, Jacaranda Village, Sunraysia Institute of TAFE & Murray House

This collaborative team is focused on enhancing the lives of older people in North West Victoria and tackling the challenges of providing care across the region.

Partnering with Sunraysia Institute of TAFE, and funding from the Education Department, four of the facilities have now offered leadership training to over 30 staff.

The 10-month course is fostering new leaders and sharing knowledge to improve aged care across the region.

Individual Award

This award recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the age services sector, has used innovation and initiative to improve the lives of older people and has delivered high quality care to the aged.

Ben Van Lierop
RSL LifeCare

Ben joined RSL LifeCare, NSW, in 2017 and was quickly promoted to Executive General Manager – People and Culture. Ben knows the best way to support residents is to develop the employees who looked after them.

He conducted an employee engagement survey and training needs analysis to establish a Strategic People and Culture Framework. He then implemented a single unified model of care across RSL LifeCare’s services that supported consumer choice and dignity – the central tenets of the new Aged Care Standards.

Chezz Thompson
Bolton Clarke

Diversional Therapist Chezz has been an integral part of introducing a Cycling Without Age program at at Bolton Clarke’s Rowes Bay community in Townsville, QLD.

Chezz has also worked hard to develop a pet therapy program with twice weekly dog visits and a monthly visit from Guvnor the horse. Her own dog China is a key recruit after undergoing pet therapy training and has become a popular member of the community.

Helen Nowlan
Compatible Care Nursing Services

Compatible Care Nursing was started in WA eight years ago by Helen Nowlan and Trish Gloede, Following the unexpected passing of Trish in 2015, Helen and her husband have realised Trish’s dream of creating a quality nursing agency that lives up to its motto of ‘Working Harmoniously Together’.

They have successfully expanded the business to include a clinical team, human resources, accounts officers, consulting, placement services, community nursing and a training hub.

Julie Folan
Cooinda Aged Care Services

Julie began as an enrolled nurse with Cooinda Aged Care Services in Benalla, VIC, 22 years ago

In her current role as Executive Manager, Quality and Compliance, Julie passionately supports residents and families and is a driving force behind many community events, including the Benalla Cancer Foundation’s Light the Night, street parades and Cooinda’s dementia awareness event, Walk and Wake Up to Dementia

Next Gen Young Leader Award

This award recognises an innovative, bold and inclusive young leader under the age of 40 who has made an outstanding contribution to the age services sector and used passion, drive and initiative to improve the lives of older people.

Jamie Langdon
Benevolent Living

Jamie is relatively new to aged care and has brought a fresh approach and innovative ways to activate residents and break down barriers with the broader community.

In a first for regional QLD, Jamie secured a partnership with Plagroup QLD to host an Ageless Playgroup. Their group Young at Heart already has a waiting list of families keen to be involved.

Jamie also secured a $20,000 grant for age-appropriate trishaws and started a Cycling Without Age Chapter in partnership with the local Rockhampton cycling group. She is also collaborating with the local arts community to develop an annual arts program for residents.

Tom Gray
Xtra AgedCare

Tom goes above and beyond to provide high quality and compassionate care. He has established wax bath therapy and a walking group, to improve individuals’ strength, mobility and wellbeing.

Tom has a way of personalising his treatments and rehabilitation therapies to incorporate each person’s biopsychosocial needs. He often goes above and beyond to spend time with clients after a treatment or walk them to a hair appointment.

He is also involved with community events and a young allied health council to further develop allied health in Australia.


Tyla Haining
Martin Luther Homes

The youngest Personal Care Assistant in her team, Tyla has developed her own strategy to build rapport with residents and encourage them into activities and lifestyle programs.

The success of her slow, step-by-step approach has had a positive impact on the wellbeing of residents

In a short time, Tyla has become an integral member of the team, taking on additional challenges that make her an inspiration to colleagues and a role model for new staff.

Gabriela Di Perna

Transitioning from management consultancy to aged care, Gabriela has led MercyCare’s implementation of the new Aged Care Quality Standards and proactive initiatives regarding the Aged Care Royal Commission.

Her Digital Empowerment project is an Australian-first, joint 12-month research study between MercyCare, the University of Queensland and CheckedIn Care to explore the impact of the MercyCare Connect App on mood and loneliness in older Australians.

Gabriela was also been pivotal in the development of the ‘Linking Together Initiative’ during COVID-19 lockdown.

Rising Star Award

This award recognises an individual with less than five years industry experience who has made an outstanding contribution to the age services sector, has used innovation and initiative to improve the lives of older people and has delivered high quality care to the aged.

Kathy White
RSL LifeCare

Home Care Coordinator for RSL LifeCare in Galston and surrounding communities, Kathy always aims to understand each client’s circumstances so she can provide them with a range of personalised options.

Working alongside families and Facility Managers, Kathy is a trusted advocate who goes to great lengths to connect with clients, build strong relationships and provide personalised support.

Her dedication was demonstrated most on the day she visited a client and their daughter, and the client held both their hands and said ‘I love you’ before peacefully passing away.

Amorette Smith

As the leader of a high needs care team, Amorette is a role model and mentor for other staff. On any given day, she provides care for up to 28 very frail residents, ensuring they receive the highest standard of person centred care.

Amorette has developed a kit to support people and their loved ones through the palliative care experience.

She has also developed a Resident of the Day check list, which gives every person at Coooinda a welfare check to hear how they are feeling about where they live, which is noted on their file with permission.


Hadja Sow

Hadja provides a key link between clients and staff both in the office and in the field, making sure clients are at ease and remain at the centre of everything she does.

Always looking for opportunities to improve efficiency, Hadja has innovated to introduce new working approaches into this challenging role.

Her work has directly led to a significant decrease in scheduling-related complaints and an increase in positive feedback, and has proven particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2020 Excellence in Age Services National Awards are proudly sponsored by: