In the last few months, I have been privileged to attend, with our Moderator Rev Steve Francis, the opening of three new aged care centres by Juniper.
Juniper is an agency of the Uniting Church Western Australia that provides residential and community aged care. It is separately incorporated within the legal framework of the Church.
The new centres are Juniper Elimatta (Independent Living Units), Juniper Gerdewoonem (Kununurra) and more recently, Juniper Hayloft (Gosnells-Armadale).
All these centres are unique and developed for different groups within the population. The standards of excellence implemented by the team under the leadership of Mick Burke, Juniper’s Executive Manager Asset Planning are remarkable.
My attendance at these opening functions has been as General Secretary. I lead a brief reflection at the start of proceedings, whilst Steve has the responsibility to dedicate the building.
In another capacity, I also serve on the Board of Juniper.
Juniper never fails to give recognition to their association with the Church and to acknowledge their Christian roots. Their by-line identifies them as “A Uniting Church Community”.
The history of the Uniting Church’s involvement in aged care can be traced back to the established of a home for women by the Methodist in Mount Lawley in 1917.
Uniting Church Homes, combining 10 age care operations, was later formed in 1992. The entity was incorporated as a not-for-profit organisation in December 1999 and was rebranded as Juniper – A Uniting Church Community in August 2012.
Today Juniper is a leading provider of care, accommodation and support services for older Western Australians with their core values of ‘Welcome, Respect, Compassion and Hope’, front and centre of their services.
They have operations in 30 different locations stretching right across our state, from Albany to Kununurra.
Next month, Vaughan Harding, the long-serving CEO of Juniper will retire.
Much of the vision and striving for excellence in the organisation is a credit to Vaughan’s passion to meet the care needs of older Australians.
He was last year awarded a medal of the Order of Australia for his work in the aged care sector.
In his own self-deprecating way, Vaughan said that the award belonged to the sector and not to him.
As the Uniting Church, we have cause to be justly proud of the work of Juniper (and our other agencies and schools).
Our footprint of care; spiritually, emotionally and physically is in virtually every place as we share the good news of Jesus in many different ways.
Rev David de Kock