Emerging Leader: Ruth Falconer – a journey of innovation and inclusivity at BallyCara

Ruth Falconer

In this profile, we highlight the achievements of Ruth Falconer, awarded highly commended in the Emerging Leader category of the 2023 Future of Ageing Awards.

Ruth Falconer, a Creative Engagement Therapist at BallyCara, has emerged as a dynamic leader, significantly impacting the people and culture within the organisation. Her journey began over seven years ago as an art therapy student at BallyCara, where she demonstrated the positive benefits of creative engagement. This led to her employment as an art therapist in residential care, where she brought therapeutic light to countless lives, especially among those facing chronic pain and cognitive impairment.

Creative Engagement Therapy (CET) Program

Under Ruth’s leadership, the Creative Engagement Therapy (CET) program expanded beyond standard therapy practices. The program now encompasses various creative arts-based therapies, including music and drama therapy. Ruth’s innovative projects, such as drop-in mural painting and the fusion of art and gardening, have created a more inclusive and enriching environment within the retirement village.

Community Expansion

Over the past two years, Ruth’s determination and resilience have driven the expansion of CET beyond Residential Care into the South-East Queensland community. Starting from scratch in 2021, she now manages a waitlist and spends full days with clients in the region, demonstrating a commitment to sustainable community growth. Ruth has also extended CET to improve workforce wellness for BallyCara teams.

“Ability to hear individuals, expansion of care to the wider community, organises consensus – again, great leadership skills”

2023 Future of Ageing Awards judge

Creative Methodology and Leadership

Ruth’s influence goes beyond service offerings; she has pioneered and refined a creative methodology applied across the organisation. Her leadership extends to facilitating BallyCara’s Experts by Experience, ensuring that service user perspectives are accurately represented. Ruth’s dedication to consumer experience is evident in her personalised approach, meeting one-on-one with members to ensure their voices are heard.

Innovative Representation and Collaboration

Ruth embodies one of BallyCara’s core values—creativity. She creatively represented BallyCara’s Strategic Ambitions 2020-2025, providing visual clarity to consumers and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her ongoing collaboration with BallyCara’s Exercise Physiologists to design targeted movement in CET showcases her commitment to continuous innovation.


A key part of the judging criteria for the Emerging Leader category is based on 2 x testimonials, both from within and external to the organisation. Below is a summary of those.

Carrie Lipscombe, Service Excellence Manager at BallyCara, highlights Ruth’s passion, dedication to leadership, and impact on the well-being of her team and the people they serve. “Ruth’s ability to make documents and resources accessible to all through imagery and concise wording is a testament to her commitment to inclusivity”.

Karen Hecimovic, a Registered Psychologist, called out Ruth’s “talent, brilliance, inclusivity, and skillfulness”. In researching the Experts by Experience Panel, Ms Hecimovic recognised Ruth’s unique facilitation approach, earning immense trust from panel members.

Ruth Falconer, with her passion, innovation, and dedication, has not only elevated the Creative Engagement Therapy program at BallyCara but has also become a symbol of leadership and inclusivity.

Her impact on the lives of older adults, her team, and the organisation as a whole makes her a deserving candidate for recognition as an industry-leading Emerging Leader in the 2023 Future of Ageing Awards.


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