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Small Business Spirit: Ross Pettit and Aged & Personal Care Services

It’s a fact of life – as we and the people we love face aging and illness, there may come a time when professional care is needed. And while hospitals or nursing homes may be the only option in some cases, having the opportunity to get care at home can have big benefits.

According to the American Hospital Association, hospital-at-home programs have been effective in improving patient experience and outcomes for those needing acute-level care. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare also reported that seniors who stay at home live longer and tend to be physically and mentally healthier than those who live in nursing homes. In addition, while at-home care might seem prohibitively expensive, the cost can often be lower.

We recently caught up with Ross Pettit, a subscriber to Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, and founder of Aged & Personal Care Services. Serving the greater Sunshine Coast of Queensland, Australia, Ross has been providing high-quality home care services to clients for over 10 years. 

Aged & Personal Care Services does everything from short-term personal assistance to emergency and 24-hour home nursing. Their offerings go beyond nursing and can include assistance with cooking, cleaning, and gardening. In addition, they don’t just serve older adults, but people of all ages looking to get quality care.

Despite the seriousness of his work, Ross was good-humored as he chatted with us from his home over Zoom. He shared plenty of compelling details about how he built his business by filling an important gap in Australian care services, advocating for his clients' needs, and taking a holistic and inclusive approach to at-home care.

Tell me about your business and the service you provide.

When I started my career as a nurse, I worked at a terminal health facility – a place where people would live out their final stage of life. Those have mostly been phased out now.
Over the past 10 years, the Australian government has encouraged elderly and terminally ill people to stay home as long as possible and live as they wish.

My company helps with that. There’s plenty of evidence that when people are comfortable and around family, they live better and longer. There's no point in uprooting someone who can live at home and putting them in a situation where they can’t be themselves.

Instead of walking from room to room, I drive from house to house. In many ways, it’s the same as a nursing home; however, instead of five people taking care of one person, I’m one-on-one with a person most of the time. I meet the families and provide many services: medications, personal care, cooking meals, and generally looking after their well-being.

I work for myself in addition to being employed at a nursing service. So after I finish my day job and on the weekends, I check up on private clients and help if there is an emergency. 

How did you get into the field, and what led you to start your own care service?

Many moons ago, my father worked as a carpenter and my mother worked retail. I eventually got into the service industry and we created a little network. I would do service jobs, dad would build and repair, and my mum would do the finances. So early on, I got myself an Australian Business Number (ABN). 

In 2010, I got into nursing school through our local TAFE system. To get certified and have people trust your work, you need to complete about 2000 - 5000 hours. To bolster my knowledge and earn those hours, I went out privately under my ABN. I met a matron in one of my first jobs – like an old-school army nurse. What I learned under one of these lovely, efficient women has served me beyond anything at school. I constantly find myself quoting her – and it’s still relevant today.

Later, when I started working in the community, I discovered a gap. Typically, when someone decides they need care, it takes a few weeks or months before they can access government services. Initially, I set up my business to deal with that gap. 

Many people have no idea what services are available, and advocacy is a big component of Australian nursing. We would meet people, identify their situation, and connect them with the necessary support. In the meantime, I would provide services as a private carer. 

Now my business has grown to be everything. If you need a registered nurse, we can arrange for one to come see you. If you need somebody to translate what your doctor is telling you – we can help.

What brings you the most satisfaction in your work?

I take a holistic approach to nursing. Some people are very task-oriented, which is really old school. You get the job done, not particularly caring about the person. On the other side, some people over-care, which isn’t very practical. They can suffer significant mental breakdowns after people pass away under their care. 

A holistic approach is taking in physical, mental, and spiritual needs. It also accounts for ethnic and cultural needs, which is helpful because it’s a very multicultural region where I am. We work with many Indigenous individuals, and people from different walks of life. Having a holistic approach provides a lot more satisfaction in service – and just being able to help people is why I do this work. Also, I met my wife at nursing school and we've been together ever since!

I’m sure your work can be very challenging at times. What are some of your biggest challenges?

Before the pandemic, there was a surge of people getting into nursing. However, with COVID and burnout, many are leaving the industry. There's way more work and fewer people to do it.

Also, I work with not-for-profits, which aim to provide the highest level of service even though they may have fewer resources. For-profit organizations have their downsides but generally have more staff. Sometimes I have to do the roles of five or so people to serve one person.

How has Invoice2go helped support your business?

When I first started my business, I needed an invoicing service to make everything uniform and easy to find. I looked around forever and eventually settled on Invoice2go because it’s a versatile and all-around good tool.

Many older adults prefer physical invoicing – not so much digital. So, I like that I can still print out an invoice, give it to them, and if they want to pay in cash, I can still note it down in  Invoice2go. I can email invoices, print them, or even send them via SMS. The invoices are easy to read and easy to adjust. I can also keep track of which clients I'm seeing and enter secured notes.

Also, I might be providing for someone here in Queensland, but the bill is going to family members in another place or country. In that case, I can email an invoice wherever it needs to go. And because Invoice2go offers multiple integrated payment systems, I can let them pay however they wish.

Being able to easily track expenses is essential for my work and was another reason I chose Invoice2go. Also, I can easily print my reports, send them to my accountant to verify everything, and then I don’t get audited. It's really good having everything in just one place at a reasonable click of a button. 

What are some of your hopes and goals for the future?

To be honest, I’m not looking to have my business grow any bigger or make many changes. I keep getting these emails from companies contacting me to build a better website or do Google Ads, but there are only so many hours in a day that I can visit people. My business doesn't need to be profitable because that’s not the goal. It's there for people to access services they wouldn't usually be able to access. It’s great as it is and I'm proud I have it.

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