October 25, 2023

Generational Change in the Family Business & Pilates

An interview with Caterina Sestili, Direct Care

The evolution in Australia’s healthcare sector can be observed first hand through the journey of Direct Care. The story begins with Ada, the mother of the current CEO, Caterina Sestili. Ada’s dedication to care is reflected in her early work with the institution once known as the ‘Home for the Incurables,’ which catered to complex, long-term health needs. The progression in community understanding hopefully means names like that previously used are long forgotten. However, it was that person-centred care that laid the foundation for Direct Care’s care first ethos.

The Founding of Direct Care

Ada, despite working in various hospitals and attending evening college, worked diligently as a freelance community nurse supporting both the Greek and Italian communities specifically with her ability to translate across 3 languages. This experience sparked the idea to offer her person-centred care on a broader scale. By the mid-’90s, the venture had blossomed, and 16 staff members joined the Direct Care team. Slightly overwhelmed but grateful for this early success, Ada’s tireless hard work and compassionate ethos soon positioned Direct Care as a frontrunner in home-based care services throughout Adelaide.

During these formative years, Caterina Sestili saw first hand the growth of her mother’s business. Not only did she observe but helped support in the early stages of company formation when it was all hands on deck. Further progressing her studies and attaining a Master’s in Social Science, she immersed herself in governance and quality management in the broader community services sector. She recalls her time consulting for various organisations such as Uniting Care QLD, the Benevolent Society, Footprints in Brisbane, and Coffs Harbour Nursing Service “I spent three years consulting in quality, systems and business development and the experience I gained was instrumental for when I rejoined Direct Care, aiding the transition and expansion for Direct Care and what is to come”.

A New Era for Direct Care

The landscape shifted in 2019 when Ada, recognised for her dedication and community leadership, decided to step back from Direct Care. Caterina’s role as CEO started with ensuring that Ada’s legacy of care-centred decisions continued, even predating the consumer-directed care model we are familiar with today. With Caterina at the helm, Direct Care embarked on its next chapter, expanding its personalised care services to regions beyond Adelaide, including Queensland, and incorporating clinical nursing and allied health services.

Vision for the Future

While Caterina is committed to elevating Direct Care’s services, her personal zeal for health and fitness also informs her vision for the company. She actively supports the Institute of Fitness in Ghana, aiming to forge pathways for elite athletes and promote health science. Despite her bustling schedule, which includes thrice-weekly Pilates sessions, Caterina’s unwavering focus on Direct Care remains intact.

Sharing her aspirations for the future, Caterina notes, "The essence of care goes beyond treatment. It begins much earlier. I am convinced that by seamlessly integrating health, fitness, and a care-first attitude into clinical care standards, we can start to make a monumental impact on healthy ageing that starts at the individual."