“Don’t give up even if people tell you it’s a bad idea” advice from inspirational CEO and successful mumpreneur Tamar Krebs

A Sydney Mum to four kids (including twins!) is actively changing aged care and dementia care in Australia …

Tamar Krebs knows that her life purpose is to improve the accommodation and care for people living with Dementia.

The first group home was set up in St Ives. The reason why you have not seen this or why you have not seen the logo is because Tamar sets up the homes to be just that- homes. She wants them to blur into the leafy suburb and street and not stand out. She wants the residents to live with dignity and respect. She wants families to feel that they are simply visited a residential home.

Tamar worked in aged care for over 18 years managing nursing homes, and dementia units. She started to ask herself why we as a society feel the need to warehouse our elderly?

If we live our entire life in a community surrounded by friends and family then why at a persons most vulnerable point in their life do we lock them away from society, their familiar suburb and why do we focus on their disability?

All this lead to the search for people to be able to age in a HOME that LOOKS, feels and smells like a home in a person’s familiar suburb.

Tamar ensures that the homes are nestled within local communities. The local communities are friendly and warm to residents. She ensures that homes are modern yet safe. The homes are beautifully designed and decorated.

Residents can choose to eat together a one of the lovely dining areas or they can eat alone or in their rooms if they chose to do so. They can still enjoy tasks like cooking or baking, visiting the shops to purchase ingredients for a favourite recipe, assisting with hanging washing on the line, gardening and even hosting a BBQ with assistance.

Dementia advocate and sufferer of early onset dementia, Kate Swaffer, recently visited three of Tamar’s homes.

Kate was so overwhelmed and grateful to Tamar Krebs for bringing such a compassionate and nurturing ‘residential care home’ to Australia.

In an open letter of gratitude, Kate states:

“I would, quite happily live in one of their homes… They have somehow found a way to ensure autonomy and safety are working in harmony, in a way that does not seem to demean anyone, or make anyone feel locked up. “This style of residential accommodation and care is the best I have seen in Australia.”

Kate expected to see the logo emblazoned on the gate or door of each home. However, the homes are indistinguishable and blend into their individual suburbs and streets providing dignity to those living there.

Kate exclaims: “I definitely had no sense I was visiting a ‘facility providing residential care’. There were people in rooms folding up the washing, staff and residents in the kitchen preparing meals; smells of cooking, and not a hint of urine. Doors that opened out onto gardens and recreational areas, with washing lines, and one even with a swimming pool. Laundries in working order, various areas to sit and relax or play cards or watch television.”

She then adds: “Staff who sounded and looked like family members. Family members sitting around relaxing waiting for a mother to return from some shopping…Dining rooms, allowing for mingling and shared meals, and smaller eating areas allowing for more privacy.”

 Kate concludes: “ This is the FIRST time, and ONLY time, I have felt I would or could move into ‘residential care’. As a person living with a diagnosis of dementia, I cannot tell you how much of a relief it felt to see someone who ‘gets’ it, and who has taken such a risk (financial, and professional) by refusing to do it as everyone else is doing it, and following their intuition, their heart, and actually ‘doing it’ so well.

Tamar founded Group Homes Australia in 2009. The first home opened in 2012. Today there are 7 homes and the company is growing rapidly.

Q&A with:  Tamar Krebs, Women entrepreneur, CEO of Group Homes Australia

Tamar Krebs Headshot

 

  1. What inspired you to start your business?

The inspiration for the GHA vision started at the age of 3 when I lived in New York with my great grandfather in his home, I lived there for 8 years during that time he became very sick…

I had the privilege of walking his end of life journey with him, I was the last person he spoke to and he said ” I love your doll.” I knew from that moment that I wanted to make a difference in aged care.

Later as an adult I worked in Aged care for over 18 years managing nursing homes, and dementia units. I started to ask myself why we as a society feel the need to warehouse our elderly?

If we live our entire life in a community surrounded by friends and family then why at a persons most vulnerable point in their life do we lock them away from society, their familiar suburb and why do we focus on their disability?

All this lead to the search for people to be able to age in a HOME that LOOKS, feels and smells like a home in a person’s familiar suburb.

  1. Did you start the business on your own?

Yes I started Group Homes Australia on my own, I presented 38 times to high net worth individuals, venture capitalist, private equity groups anyone that would listen to my story!

I eventually found a wonderful syndicate of investors that see the vision of changing the way Dementia care is delivered in Australia.

  1. Did you raise capital yourself?

Yes, I raised $3.7 million in capital

  1. What challenges did you face?

Challenges were ….I’m female, young and a mother to four kids (including twins).

I didn’t overcome any of them but used the skill of all three to show my passion drive and inspiration to change something I believe so strongly about!

I did have to try much harder since I didn’t have the “pin stripe suit” or the gender.

5.Dream big, follow your dream and don’t give up even if people tell you its a bad idea….

Focus on the goal and walk step by step.

Be prepared to take different routes but keep the end in mind.

Try and learn from every person you meet along the way, even the mean ones.

Motherhood/Children teach you how to juggle, to be tenacious, courageous and multi task. Even when you feel empty those are great skills for an entrepreneur.

  1. Did you face any industry related struggles?

Struggles in the first year were to prove the model in a very big old school industry that doesn’t like tall poppies.

  1. How did you overcome these?

 People believe in me and my journey and they want to know why I did what I did , they want to know that I’m authentic and that I will hold their hand through this very difficult dementia journey.

  1. Advice to new start ups?

  Plan big, back yourself, believe in yourself….keep thinking, get a great  mentor. Learn to listen more then you talk that’s why we have two ears and one mouth.

 Your blue-sky dream?

GHA will expand all over Australia; it will become the most popular model for people living with dementia.

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