Newcastle and Hunter Community Health Director, Alison McQueen, is a Registered Nurse with over 20 years’ experience across a range of sectors.
NHCH is a 100 per cent locally owned and operated company passionate about ensuring its clients receive optimum care in their own home to achieve their health and life goals. Working primarily with participants of the National Disability Insurance Scheme and people supported by Home Care Packages, NHCH empowers its clients by offering choice, flexibility and support to help them make informed decisions about their care needs, goals and aspirations.
Alison oversees all client related processes, such as intake, assessment, planning, monitoring and reviews and supervises all clinical staff. Her strong understanding of people’s care needs, clinical knowledge and involvement in wider corporate responsibilities and relationship management are complemented by her passion for high quality care and the importance in educating staff, clients, carers and families.
- Tell us about the journey that lead you to start your own business?
Sure. I’ve had a number of years working with different organisations in the healthcare sector. I found that my skills were actually quite valuable and versatile across different areas of the healthcare sector. And I found that I could actually make a really valuable contribution to the outcomes of different industries, combined with a change in the focus to consumer-driven care.
So, recipients particularly receiving services at home in the aged and disability industry now have a real say about which provider they use and what services that provider does for them. So I thought it was a real opportunity for a new provider to enter the market.
Also in the Hunter region there is an ageing demographic, so this means there’s more people at home looking to have in-home services to support them to make that goals and the healthcare outcomes, so I thought all of this combined there was a real opportunity for a local provider into the market and to really harness on my passion for nursing and community care.
- Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Not at all. I’ve always been a nurse and very much felt that I was just a nurse and didn’t think that that allowed me to have the knowledge and the skills to be a business person and an entrepreneur.
Obviously I’ve realised that I do, and there’s a real opportunity for me to combine my passion for nursing and my interest in business. So it’s a very exciting time.
- What is one action or task you ensure you incorporate into your diary each week?
As a small business owner there’s just so much that you do and you just complete every aspect of the business, so really having all my tasks in my diary and checking in at the beginning of the week and at the end of the week to see that I’m on task and anything that’s a real priority.
I also like to connect with our clients on a regular basis to provide that level of service and quality that we pride ourselves on, so this might be through a regular service review or an informal touch-point such as a phone call or message. So keeping track of these things in my diary is really important and checking regularly where I’m up to keeps me on task.
- What do you attribute your success to?
There’s four factors that I really consider are important in my success, firstly having a clear direction, it’s such a dynamic time and there’s so many different elements to running a business so having a clear direction of where you’re going and what the goals are so that you can stay on task and focus through them.
Also secondly having the ability to identify when it’s important to bring in an expert, trying not to recreate the wheel if it doesn’t need to be done. So, bringing in the next experts when needed allows me to stay on task and do what I do best, which is providing quality care.
Also hard work, working 24/7 every day, turning up with the same enthusiasm and working hard, because it’s really up to me to drive the success of the business.
And finally I couldn’t do that without my support network, so ensuring that I’m surrounded by supportive friends and family so that I can give the business the level of attention that I need to in turn up every day.
- What local entrepreneur do you find inspiring?
I have three our local women who inspire me as entrepreneurs, firstly Melanie Hamilton, Director of Hamilton Target Business Advisors.
Melanie is a close personal friend of mine and has been really supportive through the start-up phases of Newcastle and Hunter Community Health. And her mentor-ship and her supporter as a sounding board has been really invaluable. And over the years I’ve seen Melanie offer this support to all of her clients and she’s very passionate about the success of small business owners.
Melanie is also a real supporter of women in business in the local community, and just over ten years ago founded Gen Collective, and this is a platform for business women to connect and support each other. And her dedication is very inspiring.
I’m also very inspired by Kelly Puxty and Shelley Newman from One Community.
They founded One Community based on their experience in project management in the disability industry. And they have a real understanding of the challenges that people do face in the industry. As a new provider I found their support and their knowledge really invaluable, and their passion for connecting providers and clients.
They are dedicated to improving the industry and have developed a new app that allows clients to connect directly with providers. I think it’s really exciting and it’s really inspiring to see their dedication and their support for the industry and their keenness to see improvements for clients and providers.