Under the pioneering leadership of the Rev. Arthur Preston, the fledgling Blue Nursing service, now Blue Care, began in 1953 as an outreach of the West End Methodist Mission in Brisbane.
Arthur Preston’s vision was inspired by his and his family’s harsh experience of the depression, his deep Christian faith and commitment to serving the community, especially the poor and disadvantaged. Thus, the Blue Nursing Service was established as an expression of these deeply-held beliefs as a means of caring for the aged, especially the most needy, in the post-war era when public health services were rudimentary.
Remarkably, there was only sufficient funding to guarantee employment for 3 weeks for the Service’s first nurse, Olive Crombie, who initially travelled to patients by tram and borrowed cars. Such was the demand for its services, the Blue Nursing Service grew strongly, attracting sufficient funding from government, business and the community to facilitate its impressive growth. The foundations laid under the visionary leadership of Rev. Arthur Preston were aided by other major contributors such as Revs. Lutton, Udy, Whitlock, Howe and businessman Frank Godfrey.
The 1977 establishment of the Uniting Church caused the merger of the aged care facilities and services of 3 churches including the Blue Nursing Service which became Blue Care in 1997 when local committees were integrated into a state-wide organisation. This laid the foundation for professionally managing the complexity and scale of its present activities.
Today Blue Care is one of Australia’s largest aged care service providers and Queensland’s largest non-profit aged care provider operating in 260 sites throughout the state and increasingly assisting indigenous communities. Within Queensland, one in two or three person’s lives are said to be touched by Blue Care.
From one nurse in 1953, Blue Care employs over 8500 staff and 2500 volunteers managing 3 million community contacts each year while its fleet of 1500 vehicles travels 32 million kilometres annually. Its annual operating budget now exceeds $600 million.
Despite its staggering growth, Blue Care remains strongly wedded to its original mission and its values of Christian service continuing to reach out into areas where others don’t and for which there is no sound business reason for doing so. It is one the finest examples of Christian entrepreneurship which continues to find new forms of expression under the dedicated leadership of Uniting Care CEO Anne Cross and Blue Care Executive Director Robyn Batten.