• I am over 50
  • I am struggling to make ends meet
  • I want a quality affordable home
  • I want help when I need it
  • I Want A Good Life

Powerless Regain Dignity

Dedicated: Bryan Lipmann in his office at Wintringham Aged Care. He founded Wintringham to support elderly homeless people, some of whom are pictured on the wall. Photo: Penny Stephens
by Karla Dondio

When Bryan Lipmann experienced first- hand the disparity of care provided to elderly homeless people, he felt angry. It also prompted
him to take action. He left his job at a night shelter and, in 1989, established Wintringham – Specialised Aged Care, w hich is now the No. 1 service provider to elderly homeless people in Australia.

Initially, securing government funding for his project was not a simple task. Lipmann was aware there was more funding in aged care than in homelessness, but then needed to show w hy this marginalised group should be eligible for aged care.

He realised that he needed to shift the paradigm of thinking, and so argued that these people were not homeless and aged, but, in fact, elderly and homeless.

The former federal minister for housing and aged care, Peter Staples, saw the merits in this new model and eventually approved funding. Today, Wintringham offers a number of residential aged-care facilities in Melbourne, along with various community services.

Providing around-the-clock support at its hostels, Wintringham’s catchphrase, ‘‘A home ’til stumps’’, underpins the organisation’s philosophy.

‘‘The really important thing is that you provide a home that is safe, where residents are getting food and there’s laughter, love and affection,’’ says Lipmann.

When people first come to Wintringham, they are usually prematurely aged, he says. The objective is to keep residents safe and alive but, when stressors are reduced, their overall health often improves.

Once asked by a government minister how the organisation measured success, Lipmann’s response is surprising yet heartwarming. ‘‘I instinctively said, ‘When the residents start to complain’,’’ says Lipmann. ‘‘What that means is that for a homeless person to complain, it’s an enormous step, because they feel like they can complain. Whereas where they’ve come from, they’ve had to keep their views to themselves for fear of being evicted or attacked.’’

Although faced with the challenge of long waiting lists for accommodation and limited resources, Lipmann still finds his work ‘‘enormously rewarding’’.

His passion and dedication have influence beyond his industry. Author Elaine Farrelly was so inspired by a speech Lipmann gave at a corporate event that she wrote the book, The Wintringham Story
‘‘It’s a story about how a group of invisible and powerless people were given back their dignity and lives,’’ Farrelly says.

In writing the book, she notes that one of the highlights was observing the level of transformation that occurred in people when they were treated with dignity and respect.

‘‘Wintringham has proven that if you provide people with the right environment, and not an institutional one, they will respond,’’ she says.

Farrelly says it took Lipmann eight years from inception to get Wintringham up and running. The dedication and sense of social justice that informs his leadership style is something she clearly admires. She adds that Insync Surveys, a company that measures performance in corporates and not-for-profits, found that Wintringham had the highest staff rating in both industries.

‘‘The staff have a really tough job and yet an incredibly high rating of staff satisfaction,’’ says Farrelly. ‘‘It really comes down to the amazing leadership.’’

Lipmann takes pride in his staff being satisfied, which obviously has a flow-on effect. ‘‘We run an empowerment model. I empower my staff and then they empower the residents.’’

How Can We Help You?
If you are over 50, struggling to make ends meet, want a quality affordable home and help when you need it. If you want a good life then contact us on 03 9034 4824.
Who We Are

Wintringham is a not-for-profit welfare organisation created to address the scourge of elderly homelessness. Wintringham Housing is registered in the state of Victoria as a Housing Association.

How Can You Help Us?
Wintringham values the critical roles of staff and volunteers. We also welcome donations and the generosity of philanthropic partners.
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