Te Puke Times
Caring is our calling
Brien Cree has a very personal reason to make Radius Care the best aged care provider
Meeting Brien Cree, one of our country’s top businessmen, I found him to be quietly spoken, sporting shoulder length hair, but it was his absolute passion for the aged-care sector that really was the standout feature for me.
In the beginning
Brien came from humble beginnings, born in Lower Hutt, he started his education in the Catholic school system, finishing at Hutt Valley High School. He has four sisters and when eight, his parents separated, and he was brought up by his mother. Brien acknowledges that his mother taught him independent thought and she played a pivotal role in his business success.
Being a slightly rebellious teenager, he left school at an early age which led him to experience a wide range of jobs. From a crane driver working on a building site, going into business with a friend selling brass bedsteads to buying and selling cars. This process led him to realise that his strengths were, dealing with people and that he had accumulated some business acumen.
With a sense of adventure and as with most young people, he was keen to do his OE and spent 6 months backpacking in South America. On his return to New Zealand, he not only arrived back with hepatitis, but he found he ended up with post-viral depression as well.
In his early 30s, Brien along with a friend formed a partnership and dabbled in rental properties. Ending up overstretched and under capitalised, they resorted to selling up and moving on.
As often said, “Out of adversity, good things emerge”. Brien decided he really wanted to do something with his life, something that was going to make a difference and that had a social conscience.
At 32, totally broke and with the help of his sister who re-tailored one of his brother-in-law’s old suits, he found a job and his life took on the direction to where he is today.
Best piece of advice
The best piece of advice Brien has ever been given is to try and stay in the moment. Things happen in life which can be pretty brutal at times, you just have to try and not take it all too seriously.
Always mindful of his mental state, he refers to himself as an outgoing introvert. He doesn’t always enjoy social situations but over the years he has learnt to conduct them in his own way and enjoys people’s company.
Relaxing and de-stressing
When I asked Brien how he relaxed, it was not the answer I was expecting. I knew he enjoyed the sea, fishing, surfing, boating, in fact anything to do with the ocean. A keen motorcyclist, he enjoys his Harley motorcycle, which he rides to work in the summer. He is happy so long as he can play in the sea.
. . and does enjoy an exotic car or two!
His answer was, “I love to work, love seeing the smiles on the residents at any of our Radius Care homes and enjoy the staff, all which are just like family. I love making a difference to people’s lives”.
When Brien’s mother had a stroke at the age of 73 and he had to place her into a care facility. It was one of the most difficult decisions he had to make. She didn’t want to be there and he didn’t want to leave her there. He felt he had let his mother down dreadfully.
Brien’s mother was in care for 17 years and each visit ended with the same gut-wrenching feeling as the previous visit, it wasn’t the place he wanted for his mother. Sometimes after visiting his mother, he just sat in his car, awash with tears.
Sometimes due to the nature of his job, his visits to see his mother were later in the evening, it was difficult, and he wasn’t always accommodated. This was something Brien was determined to change.
When the opportunity arose for Brien to start and be involved with Radius Care, he took the bull by the horns and ran with it. He knew what was needed in a residential aged care facility, he had the experience and the ethos to know what he wanted Radius Care to become.
In 2003 he launched Radius
Care and set about making it his philosophy to ensure that “residents come first” and that their final years can be a positive life experience.
The next step
Looking towards the future, Brien and his dedicated staff want Radius Care to be the care home where your loved ones can be independent, be themselves, preserve their dignity and enjoy time with family and friends.
With 23 locations around the country,1800 staff and 1700 residents . . . this journey has just begun.