Home Instead female leaders changing the face of ageing
On International Women’s Day 2022, Home Instead celebrates the personal triumphs and outstanding leadership of all of our female Franchise Owners, Office Team Members and CAREGivers. Together, they are all playing a part in changing the face of ageing in Australia and helping to make life easier for those who wish to age at home.
We asked three of our female Franchise Owners to share their stories and provide some advice to aspiring female leaders. Collaboration, being kind to themselves, and having a thirst for continual learning were overwhelming themes.
Sarah McAviney, 48, Owner/Director
There were no inspirational female leaders to mentor Sarah in her early career as a buyer for retail fashion in the United Kingdom. As a manager in her late 20s who was travelling far and wide – think China and Turkey for example – the more common experience was chauvinistic attitudes and behaviours from male factory managers and business owners.
“From a very early age, I had to be on my toes to go into these meetings. I just learned very quickly that I had to hold my own,” Sarah says.
“I definitely didn’t have any great female bosses to model myself on.”
What she did learn was how to NOT manage people and it’s those lessons that she has brought to her role as a Home Instead business owner.
“I learnt how important it was to always be yourself, be really caring, be supportive, mentor, and be the person who brings out the best in your staff,” she says.
Sarah says she “married into” Home Instead, taking over her husband Michael’s franchise five years ago after three years of working in the business. She had decided the travel involved with being a buyer with two young children was too much, so she started working in the Home Instead business and absolutely loved it.
The early years were difficult.
“The biggest challenge was juggling two very young children and then learning the Home Instead business in addition to that,” she says.
“It was really tough, but everyone was really great when I became the Director because I had already worked with all of them while helping Michael with the business.
“I have learned not to take everything so seriously – just to bring energy and some fun. Collaboration is really important as is trust. It’s so important. Trusting your staff gives them the confidence to make decisions.”
Sarah’s Home Instead Sydney Eastern Suburbs & Sutherland Shire business won Home Instead’s People Initiative Award at last year’s Australia and New Zealand Conference for championing a program to keep her staff connected during COVID-19 disruptions and lockdowns over the past couple of years.
The program provided a range of activities to protect the mental health and well-being of her team, including Mindfulness sessions, Happy Hour Thursdays, and Walking Meetings (when socially distanced activity was allowed outside homes). She is now expanding the program to include Tai Chi sessions and a Steps Challenge in October in support of the Black Dog Institute.
Her advice to aspiring female leaders:
“Have confidence in yourself. Never stop learning and never stop growing as a person. Listen to your staff and work collaboratively.”
Simone Crighton, 53, Owner
A monumental life shift propelled Simone to a new career as a Home Instead Franchise Owner just over 12 months ago. Taking on the Albury-Wodonga territory came with the challenge of establishing a presence for Home Instead in that market and building its reputation from the ground up.
It’s a challenge that often seemed overwhelming to Simone, who was also dealing with a divorce and living separately from her three children, but the Home Instead Ovens Murray business has been a stand-out in terms of growth and demand for its services.
“There was no brand awareness of Home Instead in Albury-Wodonga and that, combined with my personal isolation, was very challenging initially,” Simone says, adding she has met some beautiful people since moving to Albury-Wodonga.
“I decided that not looking too far ahead is the way to do it. You just get through the morning and then get through the afternoon and that approach seems to limit feelings of being overwhelmed and helps to achieve success.”
Caring for people is integral to Simone as a person. She previously spent 25 years with a food retail franchise, leveraging her position to work with organisations including BCNA and a three-year collaboration with UNICEF called Bread for Good. Her experience as a long-term foster carer inspired Simone to create Shapeeze Fine Motor Fun to aid foundation skills development and assist with early dementia.
Personal challenges took a toll on Simone, who was quite unwell for a few months in 2020 and spent some time receiving treatment in a mental health hospital.
“I felt I could never manage a business again, which was demoralising given that I had won awards for my business operations and success. My 21-year-old daughter had to come to the supermarket with me as I couldn’t face it on my own,” she says.
“I remember finally starting to feel capable again and that I had possibilities. I started looking for options, but wanted to remain in the safety of the franchise framework. Home Instead seemed an obvious fit, but there was nothing available in Sydney or Melbourne, so I had to look regionally.”
She is proud that Home Instead Ovens Murray was recently chosen as the preferred provider for end-of-life clients from the local hospital.
“It’s such a privilege to be there when someone passes,” she says.
Her advice to aspiring female leaders:
“You can definitely do it. You just need to give yourself a break every now and then. We’ve all got to be kinder to ourselves.”
Victoria Meyers, 39, Director
Vicky doesn’t see herself as a traditional leader. Rather, she sees her approach as being more about collaboration, recognising that no one is an expert, and helping her staff to fly.
“It is really important to understand your people in this model – you need to know who wants to be recognised and who is happy to fly under the radar and play to those strengths,” Vicky says.
“I also want women to know you don’t have to work 9-5, you can have a family, and flexibility is possible.”
Previously a registered nurse and quality auditor, Vicky and her husband, Aaron, bought Home Instead Redlands & Logan nine years ago. One of the main challenges Vicky faced was the pervasive perception that the business belonged solely to Aaron.
As a result, Vicky felt she had to work extra hard to stamp her presence on the community. She joined the local Chamber of Commerce and also Redlands Women in Business for this purpose.
“It was a matter of getting known, being taken seriously, and forging those relationships,” she says.
“When we achieved success, I was often told I just started the business at a lucky time – the implication being that I couldn’t have achieved it otherwise as a woman. The true story of lots of hard work was never acknowledged.”
Vicky says the support of other female Home Instead franchise owners was invaluable at the start and she believes in paying that forward now for other female owners as well as her female staff.
“I want to see females do well because there are too many men who literally just slide up the ladder,” she says, adding Abby Wambach’s book ‘Wolfpack’ is one of her recommended reads for aspiring female leaders.
Her advice to aspiring female leaders:
“Read, read, read – mainly to find out what you don’t want to do.”
About Home Instead Australia
Home Instead is a specialist, national provider of high quality, relationship-based, in-home care for older Australians. We help with a range of personal and lifestyle needs while providing welcome companionship. Our services include assistance with personal care, light household duties, meal preparation, medication reminders, and transport to appointments, shopping and social outings. We take personal responsibility for providing the best in-home care and support to meet our client’s needs and are committed to addressing the individual and national challenges of Australia’s ageing population. To find out more about becoming a Franchise Owner, click here.