Karen Smith is based in Mornington Peninsula and works in the aged care sector with MePACS, a company providing personal alarms for their clients. Karen has over 20 years of marketing experience across multiple brands and has been working for MePACS as the Head of Sales and Marketing for the last four years spreading the word of the good work the MePACS team do.
With over 20 years of marketing experience and working for companies such as Microsoft and Telstra, we sat down with Karen to find out more about her line of work and what she enjoys about helping both the elderly and healthcare workers.
So Karen, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Well, I was born in England but married an Australian and we’ve got two beautiful children. I’m now an Australian citizen and work in the aged care tech industry which is a very rewarding job!
Tell us more about work, what makes it so rewarding?
We deal with new technology to help people’s lives. The company I work for, MePACS, is a not-for-profit that provides personal alarms for elderly people and they can press a button to get help from a team of professionals anytime of the day or night, in an emergency. The speed of being able to get help to elderly people in their moment of need makes all the difference.
I interviewed a client who told me that we saved his life when he had a massive stroke. He pressed the help button and the MePACS responder organised an ambulance to his house very quickly. Within 10 minutes the ambulance was at his house and got him to the hospital where the surgeons were able to save his life. It was emotional listening to his story and made me think how amazing it is to work in an organisation where you can make such a difference in someone’s life.
Wow, that’s incredible! What would you say are the biggest challenges of working in the aged care sector?
It’s a complex market. There are many different target markets so understanding their different needs and tailoring products that are right for them is the biggest challenge. Also knowing how to reach them as well. The aged care sector is a huge growth area and there has been an explosion of new products that have popped up on the market in the last few years, which makes it an exciting time to be in the industry.
How is the new technology helping the aged care sector and Australia’s ageing population?
We’re able to combine new technology with our traditional service making it easier for elderly people to live on their own and keep independent. Tech doesn’t have to be hard to use and now we’re able to get help to people in duress with the push of a button. It not only puts the people using our products at ease but also their loved ones who worry about their parents or grandparents living by themselves.
Another great thing about new wearable and mobile technology is that it encourages seniors to go outside, go shopping and go about their daily life without fear. There have been many studies that show keeping active increases our lifespan and catching up with friends keeps us cognitively engaged with the community. This means we’ve got more people staying fit and healthy for longer and are engaging with the community.
What made you want to work in the aged care sector?
I’m all about living a healthy lifestyle and interested in the aspects of health personally – so being able to improve others’ wellbeing is motivating and making a difference in other people’s lives is rewarding.
You also work with healthcare workers. How are you helping them in their workplace?
Yes, a big issue for lone workers like nurses and pathologists is the risk of being verbally or physically abused by customers. We want to keep healthcare workers safe at work, so have a duress alarm where the worker can call for help instantly if a situation should occur. This often de-escalates a situation and reassures the lone worker they are not on their own. We all have mobile phones but often at work they might be in a handbag or not close by. The majority of Healthcare professionals feel safer especially when carrying a duress alarm and working alone in the community plus they are more satisfied with their employer.
You’ve done a lot of different things, so what would you say is the highlight of your career so far and why?
I launched many brands for Microsoft when I worked for them back in London, so that would definitely be a career highlight. I joined MePACS four years ago, managing a team of 10 sales and marketing people and have been able to drive the growth of the company and that’s really rewarding.
You must be pretty busy – what do you like to do in your down time?
I’ve got two kids so they keep me on my toes, but I’m really into fitness because I think it’s important to get exercise daily. I love running, yoga and pilates.