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10 minutes with... Nick Chigwidden

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As our economy changes, services are now taking a front seat and helping drive our state. Nick Chigwidden, the CEO of workplace, aged care and physiotherapy provider, WorkXtra/PhysioXtra, talks to InDaily about the emerging opportunities for South Australia in aged care and workplace health.

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LEE NICHOLSON: You have been in the services sector for nearly 20 years, have you seen an increase in service-related jobs in South Australia?

NICK CHIGWIDDEN: We saw this growth probably five years ago. Services are certainly the biggest growing part of our business, no doubt about it. We’ve grown nearly 100 per cent year-on-year for the last four or five years. We’ve expanded nationally with that now.

It’s a good industry now. What you’re finding is the residential homes, the aged care facilities are a lot nicer than they used to be 10 years ago. A lot of the providers are spending a lot of money on wonderful facilities for people to go into and then providing services like your physio and your little exercise groups to help residents keep mobile. It’s an enjoyable experience while they’re there.

Nursing homes 10 or 15 years ago didn’t have a great name whereas now, they have.

LN: Have you found it hard to recruit in that field?

NC: Initially it was really hard to find people who wanted to work in the sector – it’s not the sexiest sector to work in, but it’s really rewarding.

It’s a good sector to be in because it’s growing and our biggest challenge is getting staff for all states and trying to find good people who want to stay in that sector.

LN: Do you see aged and the health care sector developing in South Australia?

NC: No doubt the sector is somewhere that Adelaide can go: it’s probably one of the few sectors that is growing really strongly.

There’s a lot of opportunities and variety in the age care sector, from carers right through to physios, speech pathologists , podiatrists, allied health.

If you look at all the data it’s certainly going to get big worldwide – not just here in Adelaide or Australia – significantly over the next 50 years.

LN: South Australia does have an ageing population.

NC: We certainly have got an aging population, and we have a high percentage of elderly in South Australia.

What you’re going to see is this building. You’re going to have to cater for the aging population because there will be too many of them in the future (for) the retirement villages, so you are seeing the government push a lot more for home services.

People usually get out of hospital a lot quicker that they used to. These people still need to be treated but they are being treated at home now. Aged care is much the same. Older people want t to stay in their home longer but they still need all the services provided to them.

LN: And you also provide services in the workplace? Has wellness there increased?

It certainly has. Obviously with the tight economical climate at the moment companies are watching all the money they spend. The smart ones continue to do therapy because it’s not expensive.  It’s a small investment for a big return.

It reduces sick days and disengagement with the workplace. You’ve got a happier environment, lower workplace injuries so your levies aren’t as high, and just a better input from staff.

We know that staff turnover is one of the biggest costs to business in Australia so if you can keep your staff it’s certainly the best way to go.

For more of our 10 Minutes With… interviews with South Australian business leaders, go here.

 

 

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